A pair of struggling boys' basketball teams met Tuesday night in Bellaire.
And even though Bridgeport won 62-48 inside the 'House of Champions,' head coach Donnie Cash will be the first to tell you his team is far from where he would like it to be.
"When we got that 14-point lead to start the fourth quarter, we kind of got selfish and got away from the team aspect," Cash admitted. "We were rushing our shots and then Bellaire started fouling and we were awful from the line."
Awful might be an understatement as the Bulldogs (2-2) could only mesh 21 of 38 attempts. They were 14-for-26 in the fourth quarter, but senior Aaron Roth connected on 5 of 6 in the final 40 seconds to preserve the win. He would finish 9-for-10 from the charity stripe, including 8 of 9 in the final period.
"Aaron really stepped up for us tonight," Cash raised. "I told him 'If you're making them, go get the ball.'
"They (Bellaire) were fouling right away, but we've still got a lot of work to do. A lot of work. I told the kids to be happy with the win, but to also be mad at themselves for the way they played. We've got a lot of room for improvement."
Bellaire (0-3) made a run and cut the deficit in half with 61 ticks remaining, but that's when Bridgeport's Jonathan Kreiter tickled the twine twice before Roth sealed the deal.
"You can't be as careless with the ball as we are and expect good things to happen," Bellaire head coach J.R. Battista stressed. "We had 26 turnovers? That's 26 wasted opportunities to score. That's just giving points away."
Bridgeport led 14-9 after the first eight minutes, but the Big Reds cut the margin to three, 27-24, at the half behind the 13-point second-quarter performance by Kenny Hess, who single-handily kept the hosts close.
Leading 31-28 just prior to the midway point of the third frame, the Bulldogs went on a 13-2 run that bumped the count to 44-30 with a panel left.
Parker Dyson, a 6-5 sophomore, tallied six of the points as he became a force in the paint.
He finished with 11 points, a dozen rebounds and nine blocked shots.
"We've been on him pretty hard in practice," Cash said of Dyson. "We didn't think he played very well the last game-and-a-half offensively. Defensively, he's been steady all year.
"Offensively, he stepped up tonight and made some shots in the third quarter to extend the lead for us."
Roth led Bridgeport in scoring with 15 points, while senior Dallas Fields chipped in 13.
QJ Williams added nine markers.
Hess paced all scorers in the game with 21 points, but only four came after the half as he was saddled with foul problems, as were Ryan Callarik and Elliott Ellison who both fouled out early in the final chapter.
Nick Patrone and Nathan Steele evenly split 20 counters between them. Only two other Big Reds reached the scoring column.
Bridgeport led 49-43 off the glass behind Dyson's game-high effort. Fields and Williams had nine each. Hess grabbed nine and Patrone eight for Bellaire.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over three less times at 23.
Bellaire won the JV game.
Bridgeport returns home to the John J. Havlicek Gymnasium Friday to host Toronto, while Bellaire travels to Morristown the same night to meet Union Local.
BRIDGEPORT (62) - Fields 5 3-8 13; Williams 3 3-8 9; Roth 3 9-10 15; Kreiter 2 2-4 7; Dyson 5 1-2 11; Teeman 0 1-2 1; McGrath 1 2-4 4; Cash 1 0-0 2; Seevers 0 0-0 0; Totals: 20-46 21-38. BELLAIRE (48) - Steele 4 1-2 10; Callarik 1 0-0 2; Back 0 0-1 0; Hess 10 1-4 21; Patrone 4 1-3 10; Kimbro 0 0-0 0; Westlake 2 0-0 5; Ellison 0 0-0 0; Totals: 21-63 3-10.
Three-Point Goals: Bridgeport 1 (Kreiter); Bellaire 3 (Steele, Patrone, Westlake)
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