Bellefontaine hits 14-of-17 foul shots in fourth quarter to seal win
Bellefontaine’s Caleb Mitchell is fouled by Kenton’s Matt Bahr during Monday’s game at Bellefontaine. (EXAMINER PHOTO | TONY BARRETT)
Bellefontaine has struggled of late closing out games, but that was not an issue Monday night against visiting Kenton.
Leading by three points going into the final quarter, Bellefontaine used clutch free-throw shooting over the final eight minutes to down the Wildcats 56-49 in a non-league boys basketball game.
The win pushes Bellefontaine to 9-5 on the season. The Wildcats drop to 5-7.
“As a team, we did a good job of battling through some tough situations, and connecting on 16-of-21 free throws was big,” said Bellefontaine head coach Henry Stolly.
The first three quarters produced a nip-and-tuck battle, with neither team holding a lead bigger than three points.
Bellefontaine led by one point (9-8) after one quarter and the Wildcats then slipped in front for a one-point lead (20-19) at halftime.
The Chiefs went back in front in the third quarter for a 30-27 advantage.
The pace picked up in the fourth quarter as Bellefontaine aggressively attacked the basket. The result was some key buckets in transition, and a rash of fouls on the Wildcats as they struggled to keep Bellefontaine out of the paint.
The Chiefs converted 14-of-17 foul shots (82 percent) during the fourth quarter.
A key turning point came at the 6:09 mark when the Chiefs’ Caleb Mitchell was fouled, sending him to the line for a 1-and-1. As the teams got set for the ensuing free throws, a Kenton player was whistled for a technical foul.
Mitchell made both ends of his 1-and-1 and Tristin Tillman knocked down both of the free throws for the technical to give Bellefontaine an eight-point edge (38-30).
Kenton did not get closer than four points from there. The Chiefs’ lead grew as high as 11 points in the final minutes.
Mitchell, a 6-5 junior center, led a balanced Bellefontaine attack with a game-high 15 points and 12 rebounds. He also helped contain Kenton standout forward Grant Sherman, who finished with eight points.
“We knew we were going to have to contain Sherman on the interior to give ourselves a chance to win,” said Stolly. “Caleb gave us a solid defensive effort and we provided some extra help on him in the post.”
Stolly also credited the defensive play of Tristin Tillman in keeping Kenton from getting into a flow on the offensive end.
“We wanted to keep their point guard under pressure and stop his direct drives to the basket,” said Stolly. “Tristin did a great job executing that game plan.”
Tillman (11 points) and Max Oyer (10 points) also hit double figures for the Chiefs. A.J. Gorham and Daniel Boy each added six points.
Matt Bahr led Kenton with 14 points.
In the junior varsity game, Bellefontaine blasted the Wildcats 92-33. Hayden Nease led the Chiefs with 25 points. Jacob Rogan had 17 points and Dawsin Tillman added 16 points.
In the freshman game, Kenton won 45-32. Hayes Roebuck led Bellefontaine with 13 points.
Bellefontaine returns to action tonight at Jonathan Alder.
BELLEFONTAINE 56, KENTON 49
Bushong 0 2-2 2; Sherman 3 2-4 8; Tra. Downing 1 0-0 2; Tre. Downing 1 0-2 2; Bahr 4 4-4 14; Sawmiller 2 0-0 4; Blackford 1 2-2 4; Phillips 5 3-5 13. Totals: 17 13-19 49.
Gorham 3 0-1 6; Oyer 3 3-4 10; Mitchell 5 5-6 15; Entsminger 1 2-2 4; Houchin 1 0-0 2; Kirby 1 0-0 2; T. Tillman 3 5-6 11; Boy 2 1-2 6. Totals: 19 16-21 56.
Chiefs 9 10 11 26 — 56
Wildcats 8 12 7 22 — 49
Three pointers: Bellefontaine 2 (Oyer, Boy); Kenton 2 (Bahr 2). Rebounds: Bellefontaine 22 (Mitchell 12). Assists: Bellefontaine 11 (Oyer 4). Steals: Bellefontaine 8. Turnovers: Bellefontaine 9. Team fouls: Kenton 16; Bellefontaine 13.