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Bellaire fends off Buckeye Local on road, 62-59

CONNORVILLE — It certainly wasn’t a mirror image of their first meeting a couple weeks ago in Bellaire, but a win is a win and the Big Reds were happy to leave Connorville Friday night with a narrow 62-59 win over a determined Buckeye Local.

Bellaire had two leads of 10 points or more in the first half leads that were quickly erased by the Panthers and the two teams battled back and forth on the Buckeye boards before the Big Reds were able to salvage that three-point win.

With the win coach JR Battista’s Bellaire cagers improved their record to 9-5 on the season they return to action on Tuesday when they play host to Martins Ferry in Bellaire.

Coach Chris Heaton’s Panthers, coming into the game having lost four of their last five games, saw their record dip to 4-7 on the season. Buckeye returned to action this afternoon and a 1 p.m. tip off in Wintersville as they faced Indian Creek.

Just a couple weeks ago, the Big Reds exploded with a 30-point win over the Panthers in Bellaire.

Friday saw Buckeye open with leads of 6-2 and 8-5 at the outset and had a lead of 12-10 before the Big Reds erupted for 10 straight points to close the first session. Buckeye sharpshooter Cameron Best had the hot hand for the Panthers scoring eight of the hosts points.

Bellaire’s opening four minutes and the late 10-0 splurge featured the scoring of six different players. Bellaire led 20-12 at the first break.

“They handled our pressure really well and deserve the credit for the way things went tonight,” Battista said after the win. “They a good job scoring in spurt. We were able to do like we did down home. They played really well and they made us earn everything we got. We’re fortunate to win.”

“Chris has done a good job with that team,” the Big Red coach added. “They moved around well and stop a lot of our shots. It’s like on a certain night if you’re making some shots everything’s great and on other nights.”

“It’s we told our kids, they practice just like we practice and they we were going to press so they practiced for that.”

In the second quarter the Panthers were able to close to within 22-17 before Bellaire scored nine straight and pushed its lead out to 31-17. Ray Ray Pettigrew sparked the Big Red surge with six points, before the hosts started to chip away the Big Red lead.

The visitors led 36-28 at the intermission.

With Bellaire leading 39-28 early in the first quarter, Buckeye local scored 11 straight to knot the score at 39 with 3:40 on the clock. The Panthers add another bucket by Hunter Darrah to take the lead at 41-39 before the two teams exchanged scores in the final minute with the Big Reds taking a 44-43 lead into the fourth quarter. Buckeye got a big boost from Ethan McHugh, Darrah, Best and Gavyn Romanyak to narrow the score in that third quarter.

In the fourth period, it was the scoring Romanyak who tossed in 10 points and the foul shooting of the Big Reds who netted 10 of 15 at the line that kept the frame close throughout. Bellaire led 51-45 at one point, but the Panthers knotted the score 51. From there, it was a timely foul shooting of Owen Ward and Jaiden Kesterson in a trey from Jake Dowling that proved a difference in that final minute.

“We were down at the half, but we really didn’t make any adjustments, we just quit turning the ball over so much,” Heaton said after the tough loss. “Our goal was to cut down on the turnovers and handle their pressure. It wasn’t like it was at their place the other night.”

“Overall, I’m pretty proud of our kids and their effort. A play here and a play there and it’s a different game. But we have to get back on the bus (Saturday) and play at Creek, so there’s no rest for the weary”.

In the jayvee contest, Buckeye held off the Big Reds with a 50-42 decision.

BELLAIRE (62) – R. Pettigrew 4, 0-1 8; Ward 5, 7-8 20; M. Pettigrew 3, 1-3 8; Kesterson 1, 5-8 7; Dowling 4, 2-6 12; Sochor 1, 2-2 4; Cash 0, 0-0 0; Nauman 1, 1-2 3. Totals, 19-46, 18-30.

BUCKEYE LOCAL (59) – McHugh 3, 2-2 8; Romanyak 9, 3-3 21; Walker 1, 0-0 2; Best 7, 1-4 15; R. Deitch 0, 0-0 0; L. Darrah 3, 1-2 7; H. Darrah 3, 0-0 6. Totals, 26-51, 7-11.

Three-point goals: Bellaire (6) – Ward, 3; M. Pettigrew, 1; Dowling, 2.

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