Bell City captured their third Oran Tournament championship in a game almost identical to last season's sectional game between these two teams. It was back-and-forth in the first quarter, all Bell City in the second and third, then a late charge by Scott Central in the fourth, only to come up short in the end.
Scott Central head coach Ronnie Cookson did not have much to say following the game.
"They were too tough for us," he said. "We thought we had it, they wanted it more than us."
When asked about the rivalry and what this win meant between the two teams, Bell City head coach Brian Brandtner said he couldn't be any more proud of his team.
In the first, the Cubs and Braves went back and forth, trading basket for basket. Scott Central ended up with the lead at the end of the first 16-14.
The second quarter was a different story. Bell City went on a 9-2 run in the first three minutes of the second. Led mostly by Nick Niemczyk's 18 first half points, Bell City began to pull away as Scott Central could not get anything to fall to answer Bell City.
The Cubs run had them sitting with a 34-27 lead going into half time.
Bell City came out blazing at the beginning of the second half. Three consecutive three pointers from Bell City started a 13-0 run. Two of those three were drained by Melvin Johnson and one came from Niemczyk. Caleb Johnson eventually put the Braves on the board to end the Cubs run 45-29 at the 5:45 mark.
The Cubs found themselves holding a comfortable lead at the end of the third quarter, 61-47.
The Braves started to put a lot more pressure on Bell City during the fourth quarter using their full court press. Turnovers and mishaps by Bell City started to let the Braves chip away at the deficit. Scott Central eventually would come within one point with 16 seconds left in the game, 71-70.
Two free throws by Niemczyk during the last seconds of the game gave Bell City the 75-72 final score. After the second made free throw by Niemczyk, the Scott Central inbound pass went to Bobby Hatchett who tossed up a desperation half court shot for the tie, but came up short.
Niemczyk led all scorers with 32 points. Phillip Gross added 14 points along with four assists and two rebounds. Melvin Johnson scored all of his 12 points from behind the arc and Marty Dames added 11 with five rebounds.
Sixth-man Randy Timmons led the Braves with 21 points and three rebounds. D.D. Gillespie added 15 points, 8 rebounds and five assists. Bobby Hatchett had 14 points and six steals on the night. Drew Thomas added 12 points and Caleb Johnson had 10 points while pulling down 10 rebounds.
Scott Central will host Gideon Dec. 7, while Bell City will play Advance on Dec. 4 at home.
The consolation game featured the tournament host Oran Eagles (1-2) and the Malden Green Wave (2-1) Friday night. The Eagles came up one point shy in the first game of the night, losing to the Greenwave, 64-63.
A 3-pointer by Kody Campbell brought the Eagles within one with only five seconds remaining in the game. A quick foul by the Eagles put the Green Waves Michael Johnson at the charity stripe with three seconds left.
Johnson would miss his free throw and the Eagles would come up with the rebound. Cody Romas would catch the outlet pass and toss up Oran's final hope at the buzzer, but his shot hit off the back of the rim to end the game.
"I thought we had a good first week," Oran head coach Denver Stuckey said. "They seeded us eighth, they didn't think we had much of a chance. We came out and competed all three nights and I think we have a lot of good things to build on."
Romas led all scorers with 25 points. Campbell scored 23 with 6 rebounds and Tyler Beardslee added 10.
Leonard Burton had 15 points for Malden. Andy Matthews added 14 and Chad Hudson scored 11 and had 5 rebounds.
Orans next game will be at home against Risco Dec. 4.