ORAN -- The Bell City Cubs came out of the halftime break on fire to blow open a close contest with the host Oran Eagles.
Bell City captured its 13th straight with a 75-57 victory over Oran on Friday. Leading by only one point at the half, the Cubs, triggered by Nick Niemcyzk's 11 points, outscored the Eagles 24-9 in the third quarter.
"Bell City's such a great team and I told our kids at halftime that, for a team of their caliber, it's unacceptable to them to be this close with us and they were going to come out wanting to bury us," said Oran coach Denver Stuckey. "I challenged them to stay with them, but they (Bell City) started to do some things better and I thought we got some pretty good shots that we were hitting in the second quarter that didn't fall to answer their run."
With the score favoring Bell City at 45-36, junior guard Niemcyzk went on a personal 7-0 run, including a buzzer-beating 3, to up the lead to 52-36 going into the fourth period.
"We came out with a lot of intensity in the second half," said Bell City coach Brian Brandtner. "I thought Coach Stuckey came out with a good strategy. We talked about how we were going to defense it at halftime and did a much better job."
Oran (11-8) used a disciplined offensive approach in the first half, showing patience while running a three-man weave on the perimeter to free shooters.
"That was our gameplan going in, spread the floor and, obviously we didn't have the size they did, so we were going to try to use our quickness and try to free our post guys," said Stuckey.
Oran opened the game with a 5-2 lead early, then Bell City, with the 6-
foot-10 post Will Bogan having his way inside, went up 14-5. The Eagles, ignited by Hunter Glastetter's steal and basket, battled back to close the gap to 16-13 as the quarter expired.
Steven Mock paced the Eagles with seven first-quarter points.
Oran, behind Chris Asmus' 10 points, continued to execute well early in the second quarter as they retook the lead at 25-20.
Then Bogan kissed in a reverse layup, Melvin Johnson connected on a 3-
pointer and it was Bogan again on a thunderous two-hand dunk off a breakaway to lift the Cubs to a 27-25 advantage.
Bell City (17-4) took a 28-27 lead in at halftime.
"Oran just stepped up and played well," said Brandtner. "They knocked down some big shots, guarded well and that leads to missed shots. They out-
toughed us in the first half and the score showed that."
It all turned around in the decisive third quarter, however.
Said Stuckey, "You can't give a team like that any momentum or they're going to take advantage of it. We came out a little flat, had some turnovers but, all in all, I was pretty pleased."
Both coaches emptied their benches for much of the fourth quarter, which escalated into a free-throw contest. Bell City went to the line 25 times in the quarter, hitting 14; while Oran made 15 trips, converting nine.
On the evening, the Cubs were 20-of-33 from the charity stripe; the Eagles 10-of-16.
Asmus and Cody Romas led the Eagles' scoring with 12 points apiece. Bogan and Niemcyzk topped the Cubs with 24 and 21, respectively. Phillip Gross added 11.
Oran visits Sikeston on Tuesday at 6 p.m., while Bell City hosts Dexter, also Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Oran's jv defeated Bell City 53-46.
Kurt Rendelman led the Eagles with 25 points and Cody Dirnberger chipped in with 10.
Ronnie Gross scored 14 and Chris Blissett 12 for the Cubs.
Note: Oran was without the services of starting junior guard/forward Kody Campbell, who is under medical evaluation for head trauma suffered in an on-court collision during the Eagles' previous game.