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Cubs have big second half in win

Sunday, February 12, 2006

(Photo)
Bell City's Blaine Stewart goes up for a shot.
RISCO - The Bell City Cubs basketball team got past the Risco Tigers on Friday night, with a 87-60 road victory.

The matchup of Class 1 teams was intense and the referees had a difficult time controlling the action.

In the game, 53 free throws were attempted and Bell City was whistled for four technical fouls.

"We got caught up with the emotions of the game in the first half," said Bell City coach Brian Brandtner. "Our kids regrouped at halftime and came out ready to play in the second half."

The Tigers came out looking for an upset of the Class 1 No. 2 team in the state. Risco opened the game up 5-2 at 6:30 of the first quarter. The Cubs responded with a 10-0 run that encompassed most of the first quarter.

Senior Andrew Halford did the heavy lifting for Risco in the first quarter, scoring 10 of the Tigers' 12 points in the first. After one, Bell City led 14-12.

While Halford carried Risco in the first, 6-foot-10 junior Will Bogan did much of the same for Bell City. Bogan had eight points and six rebounds (four offensive) in the first.

Risco did not go away in the second quarter and after a Halford one-hand jam around a Cub defender, the Tigers trailed 20-19 at 5:41 of the second.

The Risco fans were hopping after the Halford dunk and were enjoying Bogan on the bench with two fouls in the second.

Bogan came back in the game with five minutes to play in the second quarter, with Risco leading 23-20. With Bogan back in the game, the Cubs proceeded to go on a 15-0 run to open the game up and led 35-23 at 2:30 of the second.

In the midst of the Cubs putting Risco away in the second, Bogan picked up his third personal foul and Bell City was hit with two technical fouls, one on a player and one on Brandtner.

Risco hit 5-of-6 free throws attempts and trailed 40-32 with one minute to play in the first half. Bell City scored late and led 42-32 heading into the half.

"Outstanding effort by the guys tonight," said Risco head coach Brandon Blankenship. "We came out with great intensity to start the game and we hung tough for a half."

The Tigers surprised many by playing a man-to-man defense on Bell City, and heads up against Bogan.

"We knew Bogan would get his no matter the defense we played," said Blankenship. "We wanted to focus on stopping (Nick) Niemczyk and his outside shooting. We were not going to stop Bogan, but it is pick your poison, let Bogan score his points or let Niemczyk drain 3-pointer after 3-pointer."

Brandtner was somewhat surprised Risco played a man defense on his club.

"We have not seen a lot of man defense this year," said Brandtner. "They face-

guarded Niemczyk in the first half and did a decent job of taking Nick out of his game."

Halford led Risco at half with 22 points and had three rebounds. Brice Earnheart and Robert Fowler each had four points at halftime for the Tigers.

Bogan had 16 points and nine rebounds (seven offensive) in the half for Bell City, much of Bogan's points came from point-blank range and on offensive rebounds. Jeff Liggins had six points, six rebounds and three steals. Niemczyk finished the first half for the Cubs with eight points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Bell City controlled the defensive and offensive boards against Risco in the first half, outrebounding the Tigers 26-12 and 14-4 on the offensive glass.

The Cubs came out after the half with renewed intensity and an agenda to get the ball low to Bogan. The first eight points of the third quarter were scored by Bogan in the paint and Bell City rolled in the third quarter outscoring Risco 25-12. The only negatives for the Cubs in the third, was technical fouls called for unsportsmanlike conduct and for hanging on the rim.

Bogan scored 11 points and in the third quarter, while Niemczyk warmed up from the outside hitting a 3-pointer in the quarter. The Cubs led 67-44 heading into the fourth quarter.

"We got more active in the second half," said Brandtner. "Will is such a presence on the floor for us. He (Bogan) makes everybody else better."

Bell City put the lights out with back-to-back 3-pointers from Liggins to start the fourth quarter. The Cubs cruised the rest of the fourth, and picked up the 87-60 victory over Risco.

"Those 3-pointers by Liggins opened the game up and we could not recover in the fourth," said Blankenship.

Bogan led the way for the Cubs with 31 points and 10 rebounds (eight offensive) including three rim-rattling dunks. Liggins is an unheralded force for Bell City and ended the contest with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

"Jeff has had a slow start scoring this year, learning a new position," said Brandtner. "But Jeff is our quiet leader and when he crashes the boards, we usually win the game. He is an asset for any team and in my opinion, is a college-caliber player. Jeff defends well and is just a great person, both on and off the court."

Niemczyk had a great game with 11 points, 10 assists, seven steals and six rebounds.

Halford had a game-high 36 points for Risco and had seven rebounds. Halford was unstoppable all night, as most of his points came against Bogan of Bell City.

"Andrew stepped up big time tonight," said Blankenship. "I am so proud of how he played tonight. Words can't describe. I will say this, Andrew Halford is the best player in the Tri-County Conference."

Brandtner was also impressed with the Risco senior.

"Halford is a good player," said Brandtner. "I put Will on Halford because we need Will to be more active on the defensive end. I was impressed with how well Will moved his feet. He went up against a fine player."

Rodulfo Johnson led Risco with nine rebounds off the bench.

Bell City got a huge boost from their bench led by McIntyre and outscored Risco's bench 19-3 in the game. The Cubs outrebounded the Tigers 45-29 and of those, 20 rebounds were on the offensive boards compared to Risco, who had 10 offensive rebounds.

The Cubs had 19 assists as a team, while Risco got six assists. Bell City committed only seven turnovers and had 10 steals. Risco committed 18 turnovers and had only three steals.

Bell City (19-3) hosts Galatia, Ill. on Monday.

Risco (11-9) will play in the Tri-County Conference Tournament and received the No. 3 seed. The Tigers will face the host and No. 6 seed Holcomb Hornets on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.