Bellaire looked great in an OVAC consolation game Friday against visiting Oak Glen ... for about a quarter.
Nick Patrone was on fire, pouring in 11 of his game-high 18 points. The Big Reds held a commanding 14-2 lead.
Then, the game took a gradual downhill turn for the Reds before plummeting swiftly the final 10 minutes.
Oak Glen went on devastating 19-0 run between the third and fourth quarters and Bellaire watched its final lead, 39-37 with 2 minutes to go in the third, quicly evaporate.
The Golden Bears held Bellaire to two field goals in the second half and 13 total points as they came away with a 66-41 victory.
Early, it was Patrone and his Big Reds' teammates driving and hitting layups or getting to the line that spelled trouble for the visitors.
Bellaire was 8 of 15 from the field and 12 of 15 at the line in the first half, taking a 28-25 lead at the break. Bears' coach Dave Smith, less than enthused with his team's man-to-man defense, had to make a change.
"Our man defense wasn't good (Friday)," Smith said as his team improved to 3-16. "I was frustrated with it, especially the first few quarters. We switched to zone and slowed them down a bit and Bellaire didn't shoot very well after that."
That's putting it mildly.
Oak Glen slowed the tempo and its zone took Bellaire penetration game out of the equation, forcing the Big Reds to spot up for shots.
Nathan Steele canned two triples, the last with 2:05 showing in the third, giving Bellaire it's final lead.
The Big Reds' offensive production the next 8 minutes was nill and the Bears, finally getting hot offensively, were more than happy to take advantage.
"We got good looks but we couldn't make the shots. They didn't go down," a disappointed Bellaire coach J.R. Battista said, his team falling to 3-19. "It was that simple.
"Their zone slowed us down some, but we missed a lot of makeable shots and they made a lot."
Early, it was the aggressive play of Matt McLaughlin, who finished with 14 points and 11 at the half, that allowed the Bears to eat into that early 14-2 deficit.
The second half saw Cody Howell catch fire, owning the paint in dropping in a team-high 16 points, all but four of which came in the second half.
A big key was after suffering through 11 first-half turnovers, Oak Glen started taking better care of the ball.
"Those turnovers were frustrating," Smith said. "A lot of those were unforced. I can take a team pressing us and forcing turnovers, but what we were doing was unforced, even clumsly at times."
Kenny Hess finally broke the scoring draught for Bellaire at the 2:08 mark of the fourth with a pair of free throws. It was Bellaire's only points of the quarter as the visitors outscored the Big Reds 26-2 in the final quarter.
Bellaire's attention turns to sectional play Wednesday when they take on rival Martins Ferry, a team that handled the Reds rather easily during their first two encounters.
Oak Glen, meanwhile, heads to Wellsburg on Tuesday for a meeting with Brooke.
The Bears took the junior varsity tilt by a 39-32 final score.
OAK GLEN (66) - McLaughlin 5 3-5 14; Click 1 0-1 3; Woodruft 4 2-2 10; Kincaid 3 0-0 6; Howell 6- 4-7 16; Spratt 3 0-0 8; Smith 1 0-0 3; McGraw 3 0-0 6; Smith 0 0-0 0; Congo 0 0-0 0; Totals: 26-45 9-15 66. BELLAIRE (41) - Steele 2 1-4 7; Westlake 0 2-2 2; Back 0 0-0 0; Patrone 6 6-8 18; Hess 1 8-9 10; Callarik 1 0-1 2; Ramsay 0 2-2 2; Kovalyk 0 0-0 0; Bentz 0 0-0 0; Hall 0 0-0 0; Pickens 0 0-0 0; Kimbro 0 0-0 0; Ky.Hess 0 0-0 0; Totals: 10-34 19-26 41.
Three-point Goals: McLaughlin, Click, Spratt 2, Smith. Steele 2.
Hughes may be reached at email@example.com