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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Bell City claims tourney title

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Nick Niemczyk of the Bell City Cubs drives past Twin Rivers' Greg Morse.
ORAN -- The Bell City Cubs defeated the Twin Rivers Royals 57-52 to capture the championship of the 50th annual Oran Invitational Tourney on Friday.

The tournament's golden anniversary turned into a silver anniversary for the Cubs who last won there in 1980, 25 years ago.

Second-seeded Bell City's toughness, mental and physical, was a key factor in unseating the defending champion Royals, winners of five of the past seven tournament titles.

"This shows two things: a., we're not a finesse team, we can be physical and b., we can win when some of our best players aren't having their best games," said Bell City coach Brian Brandtner.

Bell City (4-1) overcame the ineffectiveness of its foul-troubled 6-10 center Will Bogan, who was so instrumental in their semifinal win with 31 points. Bogan, in limited playing time, finished with only two points.

Scott Central's D.D. Gillespie
The Cubs also used a tenacious defensive effort to thwart the determined Royals' comeback attempts.

"They (Bell City) were just a lot tougher than we were, physically," said Twin Rivers coach Jim Vaughan.

Senior reserve guard Blaine Stewart was the catalyst for the Cubs. Aside from Stewart's hard-nosed defensive play, he also contributed 11 points to the offense.

"He could be starting, but we need that sparkplug off the bench," said Brandtner.

Bell City led a low-scoring first quarter, 11-9. The teams traded baskets to a second-quarter tie at 20, then the Cubs extended the lead to 24-20 on four straight points by Stewart.

Kelly's Jordan Felter
Following a Twin Rivers' free throw, sophomore shooting guard Nick Niemczyk drained his second trey in the quarter to send the Cubs ahead 27

-21. Niemczyk, silenced in the semifinal, was huge in the final with a game-

high 17 points, including three 3-pointers.

A field goal by Marty Dames and a Jeff Liggins' free throw lifted the Cubs to a 30-21 halftime edge.

The final play of the first half, a resounding shot block by Bell City's sophomore leaper Phillip Gross of an attempted layup by the Royals' top offensive threat Michael Lance, signified the Cubs' defensive intensity.

"I can't say enough about the job Liggins, Dames and Gross did on Lance," Brandtner said. "They held a great player to 11 points."

He added, "Gross has as much talent as anybody on this team. He is stepping up and playing big-time basketball."

Bell City maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the third quarter, which ended with the Cubs up 47-36.

But, the Royals weren't about to go away passively.

Said Vaughan, "The way we came back, I couldn't be more proud to be on this bench."

Kade McBroom and Jimmy Cornell combined for 13 points to lead Twin Rivers back to a one-point deficit at 51-50 with 3:53 remaining.

Niemczyk, fouled by Lance, stepped to the line and calmly sank both free throws to give the Cubs a 53-50 lead with about 3:30 to go.

Following a Twin Rivers' turnover, Dames, who contributed 11 points, outbattled everybody for a rebound putback for a 55-50 edge.

He sealed the win with a final basket with 9.8 seconds left, following McBroom's layin which had narrowed the lead to 55-52.

Cornell topped the Royals with 14 points, while Lance and McBroom had 11 apiece.

The Advance Hornets jumped out early to a 10-point first-quarter lead and cruised to a 74-55 win over the Malden Green Wave for third place.

Malden, perhaps suffering a letdown from a heart-breaking, last-second loss to Bell City in Thursday's semifinal, never seemed to get untracked.

The Hornets showed scoring balance with five in double figures, led by Daryl Wade's 19 points. Alex Steil had 15 and Josh Bailey, James Masters and Trenton Moses chipped in with 10 apiece.

Malden was led by Trey Porter's 13 points and 12 each from Quentin Franks and Alonzo Louis.

A third-quarter run provided the impetus to propel the Scott County Central Braves to a 75-66 win over the Kelly Hawks for fifth place.

"It's good to come out with a couple of wins," said Scott Central coach David Heeb, "because there are no bad teams in this tournament."

With the score knotted at 40, point guard D.D. Gillespie went on an eight-

point tear to lift Braves to a 48-40 advantage, a lead they never relinquished.

Kelly closed to 50-47 late in the third quarter, but three consecutive turnovers resulted in Scott Central points for a 57-47 lead.

The Braves outscored the Hawks 25-13 in the period.

"Turnovers killed us all night," said Kelly coach Cory Johnson. "We didn't handle the pressure well."

Gillespie and fellow sophomore Caleb Johnson split 14 fourth-quarter points to seal the win.

Gillespie led with a game-high 28 points and Johnson finished with 23. Freshman Drew Thomas added 10.

Heeb, on his youthful lineup, "Every night we play we learn something new and, with kids this young, that's important. We still have a long way to go but this week is a big step forward."

Tyler Thurman paced the Hawks with 15 points, while Brandon Ayers netted 12. The Hawks hit a tournament game-high nine 3-pointers, led by Ayers with four and Thurman with three.

First team

D.D. Gillespie, Scott County Central

Will Bogan, Bell City

Alex Steil, Advance

Alonzo Louis, Malden

Michael Lance, Twin Rivers

Second team

Caleb Johnson, Scott County Central

Brandon Ayers, Kelly

Blaine Stewart, Bell City

Dexter Moore, Twin Rivers

Daryl Wade, Advance