MACON – Eastern Brown returned home after the holiday break for a Southern Hills Athletic Conference showdown with the West Union Dragons. The Warriors pulled away with the victory 57-42.
The Warriors used a pair of late first-quarter baskets to take an 11-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. The lead grew to 12 by the end of the second thanks to six points from Charles Bellamy, though he wasn’t alone. Five different Warriors scored in the quarter, which allowed Eastern to take a 27-15 lead into halftime.
Defense remained the key for the Warriors in the third quarter, as they allowed just eight points in the frame. Logan Doss converted a three-point play, pushing his team’s lead to 17 points. The Warriors led 41-18 at one point before late baskets by Craig Horton and Logan Clifford cut the deficit to 19 entering the fourth quarter.
Eastern was out-scored in the frame 19-16, but majority of that damage was done late. The Warriors led by 23 after another basket by Doss. The Dragons answered with a three-pointer by Garrett Vogler, but any momentum was quickly squashed when Eastern’s Jacob Diener scored five quick points.
West Union finished the game on a 7-0 run but still lost to the Warriors 57-42. Horton and his 12 points led the way for the Dragons, who shot just 13 of 50 (26 percent) from the floor. Turnovers were also a problem for West Union; the team turned the ball over 19 times in the game.
Eastern turned the ball over seven times in the fourth quarter alone, but backups were doing most of the ball handling by that point. The Warriors finished the game with 13 total turnovers.
Marcus Day and Bellamy each tallied 12 points to lead Eastern, with Doss right behind at 11. In all, 10 Warriors scored at least two points: Nick Kelch and Blake Rigdon each scored four, Diener finished with five, and Mickey Hundley, T.J. Stivers, Mana Stivers and Garyn Purdy all added two points apiece for the Warriors.
Eastern head coach Rob Beucler told C103 after the game that the team couldn’t afford to take West Union lightly, even though the Dragons had just one win on the season.
“They play you close,” Beucler said. “They play hard. If you take them for granted…they’re playing hard. That’s a step, because there’s three things we want: you want the kids to play smart, play hard and have fun. The fun comes from the process and getting things to work. I’ve been through it too last year when we had kids injured and not able to play. We were 1-9 at one time. You have to keep coming back and motivating and getting kids to buy in.”
The Warriors got players involved late in the game that do not normally see a lot of varsity time, which is crucial to the team’s success in the long-run, since the squad graduates six players after this season.
“They have to perform next year for us,” Beucler said. “If they’re not catching it now, it’s not going to be very easy for them. We go over game situations and we’ve practiced this for the last couple weeks, but handling pressure is one thing we have to get better at.”
Beucler mentioned he was happy with a few of the team’s individual performances, but ultimately the team needs to maintain it’s focus on defense.
“[Doss] gave us some big points early and he gave us some in the second half,” Beucler said. “I thought defensively in the second half we came out and got a big spurt. T.J. Stivers did a nice job at the guard spot and all the kids bought in a little bit defensively, then we kind of let back down. We got a bit comfortable and that’s the thing, we have to learn to be able to maintain that concentration, that defensive intensity.”
The team’s rebounding was also key, with Beucler noting Bellamy in particular has to be able to step up and pull down the rebounds for the squad.
“[Bellamy’s] got an athletic body, he’s probably one of the best athletes on the team and he can jump well,” Beucler said. “I told him he probably should average five to six rebounds. I’m hoping eight to nine. I know they sometimes think someone else is going to do it for them, but we can’t do that with our size.”
The Warriors face off against the Georgetown G-Men at home on Tuesday, Jan. 12 before a three-game road swing at Fairfield, the Coach Young Classic at North Adams High School and Fayetteville.