By RICK THORP
Times Leader Sports Writer
BELLAIRE - With one basket, Marci Quirk knew her team was headed in the right direction.
BELLAIRE’S Cari Crozier, foreground, battles with St. John Central’s Jessica Alvey for possession of the basketball Friday night on Guernsey Street. The Big Reds won.
Keirstyn Kidder's 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half Friday night not only gave Bellaire a 23-20 lead, it also served as the catalyst for the Big Reds' 55-46 victory against St. John Central on the Irish's boards.
''When she hit that I knew we were in good shape,'' Quirk said.
The bucket was part of an 18-2 run that started with 2:45 remaining in the second quarter and ended with 1:35 left in the third.
''We were playing our game in the second half and that's why we won,'' Quirk said.
What is ''our game?''
''Intensity and hustle,'' she said. ''That's what we're used to playing.
''Give St. John credit, they outhustled us in the first half, but in the second I thought we played the game we're used to playing.''
St. John held a 13-12 lead with 4:27 remaining in the second quarter when Irish head coach Bubba Kapral called time out. His words sparked his team as St. John went on a 7-0 run and surged to a 20-12 lead.
Jessica Alvey scored five of her 17 points during the spurt, which also included a turnaround jumper from Lindsey Froehlich.
At that point, however, the Big Reds (2-1) awoke.
''This was our third game of the week so I don't know if we were tired or what,'' Quirk said. ''I don't want to make excuses.''
Kapral said his squad simply ran into a solid basketball team.
''The first 12 minutes we played really well and the next thing we know we're down 23-20 at halftime,'' he said. ''We can alibi about it being our first game. We can alibi about four sophomores and a freshman. It is what it is. Bellaire is a good basketball team.
''We're not going to get better until we make better decisions with the basketball.''
Senior Cari Crozier, who paced Bellaire with 18, had four early in the third quarter as the Big Reds built a 30-22 advantage.
Bellaire limited St. John to two field goals and six points in the period.
''A lot of our offense comes from defense,'' Quirk said. ''It all comes from hustle and intensity. We played mentally tough (Friday night) and I'm proud of (my players) for that.''
The Irish hung tough, however. An Alvey layup brought St. John to within four at 42-38 with about 4 minutes remaining.
But Bellaire scored 10 of the next 13 points to take control for good.
''We just didn't do the little things we needed to do to win,'' Kapral said. ''And against a team like Bellaire, they'll make you pay.''
Nina Crook added 13 points for the Big Reds, while Kidder finished with 12.
Marissa Rose paced St. John with a game-high 20 points.
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Bellaire 55, St. John 46
B - Garloch 1 0-0 2; Kidder 4 3-6 12; Smith 0 0-0 0; Crozier 8 2-7 18; Gillespie 2 1-4 5; Ryan 1 1-4 3; Crook 5 2-2 13; Maupin 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 9-23 55.
S - Rose 8 4-7 20; Froehlich 2 0-2 4; Alvey 7 2-5 17; LeMasters 1 1-4 3; Lowe 0 0-0 0; Santinoceto 1 0-1 2; Porter 0 0-0 0; Steinbak-Olsen 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 7-19 46.
3-Point Goals: Kidder, Crook; Alvey.