ESSEX - Turnovers and miscues plagued the Richland Rebels Friday night against the visiting Bell City Cubs, with the Cubs rolling to a 74-31 blow out.
With two of Richland's starters out, things took a turn for the worst early as Bell City was up 25-10 by the start of the second quarter.
Bell City took advantage of the Rebels' weakness from the start, exposing Richland's lack of depth with full court pressure and setting a fast-paced tempo.
With only nine healthy players, it didn't take long for fatigue to set in on the Rebels', causing turnover after turnover.
The Cubs' seized the opportunities while amassing a 42-19 lead by half-time.
Richland's struggles continued after the half, gaining only three points in the third quarter off a Matt Ritch shot from past the arc.
Bell City's coach David Heeb didn't let his boys grow complacent with the large lead, challenging them to force turn-overs and maintain the momentum.
"I told them we were gonna take the day off tomorrow, so let's not mess that up," Heeb said.
"That usually works. If they're taking the next day off usually they'll play pretty hard in the second half."
Even with the outcome of the game pretty much assured both teams went at each other down to the final buzzer with Ritch scoring the last points of the game to make the final 74-31.
"We probably played one of the worst ball games we've played all season," Richland coach Doyle Denbow said after the game.
"We didn't have effort and we didn't go after the ball. We got what we deserved."
The Rebels' lack of offense was apparent in the box scores where they didn't have a single player in double digits.
Ritch and John Griffin were the high scorers for Richland coming in with eight points apiece.
"We just simply didn't play well," remarked Denbow. "We won't do the same thing again. We'll improve on this."
Denbow also remarked on Bell City's impressive play. "Bell City's got a good ball club. That's why they've won two state championships, they work at it," noted Denbow.
"They went after every ball that went up and we didn't go after anything."
Bell City's long bench gives them some assurance in this injury plagued season as the Cubs had nine players contributing points on the night.
D.D. Gillespie came out on top of those nine with fifteen, followed by Blaine Stewart and Nick Niemczyk tying for second with ten apiece.
"I thought we played really hard," Bell City coach David Heeb said. "We made a few mistakes with the ball, but I was real proud of how aggressive we played tonight."
Coach Heeb related with Richland's injuries woes. "They're in the same boat we are," Heeb remarked.
"They're banged up and really young. Those kids play hard and have a lot of talent to look forward to in the future."
Richland will try to improve its fortunes and add to its three regular season wins in its next game, Tuesday night at Gideon.
Bell City will get a break from the road, starting a two game home stand Tuesday night against Puxico in hopes of improving on its 7-5 record.
ADVANCE - They stayed, they shot, they conquered.
The Advance Hornets did what was necessary and made a living from the free throw line - shooting 35 on the night - to knock off the visiting Bernie Mules in Stoddard County Conference play on Friday night, 70-56.
In the loss, the Mules fell to 5-6.
"We started slow, but I felt like we held with them at times," Bernie head coach Morris Karnes said. "We got in foul trouble and allowed them to shoot too many free throws - 35 to our 15.
"Advance is a fine ball club and we just wish we were at full strength going in so we could have been more competitive."
The Mules continue to play without standout guard Zach Dill who is out with a broken wrist.
Advance was able to capitalize on that, putting four players in double digits on the night.
Jeremy Limbaugh notched 19, James Masters an even dozen and Daryl Wade and Jordan Seabaugh drained 10 on the night.
Bernie, had a pair of players light it up too. Britt Arnold drained 24 and Marcus Massey rang up 15.
Arnold and Doug Johnson combined for seven of the Mules' eight threes on the night.