Total team effort notches first victory for Bellwood-Antis boys

After his team started off 0-2 with lopsided loses to Tyrone and Penns Valley, Bellwood-Antis Head Coach Tim Keech cautioned fans to remember the Blue Devils may have played the two toughest teams they will see the entire season in their first two games.
The fans who took Keech\’s advice and showed up for Bellwood-Antis\’ Juniata Valley League match up against Mount Union Monday weren\’t disappointed. The Blue Devils looked like an entirely different team on their way to a 57-51 victory.
Bellwood-Antis, who had made only three 3-pointers the entire season, drained five Monday night and played high tempo defense the entire game, something they were unable to do in the second half against Tyrone in their opener.
“We have the ability to hit outside shots when we draw two defenders to someone and make a quick pass. All we needed was the confidence,” Keech said.
One of the players Keech was particularly hoping would show some confidence and step up his ability was Blaze Winterstein, who scored 16 points after totaling only five in the first two games combined.
“I challenged Blaze before the game. The first two games, I felt like he wasn\’t completely mentally there, and you have to fix that before you can get better. He responded very well,” Keech said.
While the defense was improved, it wasn\’t enough to stop Mount Union\’s star junior John Martinez from posting 25 points. Martinez was not only dominating the paint, but hitting nothing but net on shots from beyond the arc as well.
Martinez was particularly strong early and near the end of the game, but even though they were unable to stop him, Bellwood-Antis\’ game plan slowed Martinez in the third quarter while the Blue Devils took control of the game.
“John is a great player, and when he shoots he puts teams in a bind, so what we tried to do was get him less touches so he could inflict less damage. L.J. Seidel did a good job keeping the ball away from him in the third quarter,” Keech said.
However, early in the first quarter, Martinez was getting plenty of looks. His driving layup began the game on a sour note for the Blue Devils, and a 3-pointer less than two minutes later gave Mount Union a 7-2 early lead.
Bellwood-Antis answered with three 3-pointers, two from Winterstein and one from Paul Christner, to give them a 15-11 lead after the first quarter.
With the Blue Devils leading 20-16 in the second quarter, Martinez made a layup and a jumper with his foot on the 3-point-line to tie the score. Alan Wertz briefly regained the lead for Bellwood-Antis with a jump shot before Martinez tied things up again with a jump shot of his own.
Two Bellwood-Antis baskets gave the Blue Devils a four-point lead before Ryan Pollicino made a near half-court 3-pointer to cut the halftime margin to one.
The score was tied at 34 with 2:23 left to play in the third quarter when the Blue Devils used the long shot to their advantage again. Back-to-back 3-pointers, one by Ben Hatch and the other by Christner gave Bellwood-Antis a six point lead they would hold on to until the fourth quarter.
Late in the final quarter, Martinez made a basket to cut the Blue Devil lead to 45-43, but every time Bellwood-Antis\’ lead was threatened, they responded with a basket.
Christner got the lead back to four with a jump shot, and after Bubba Brown stole a Hatch pass and made a layup to make it a one possession game, the Blue Devils got baskets from Seidel and Winterstein to make the score 51-45.
Leading by six with 2:50 to play, Bellwood-Antis\’ young shooters did not respond well to pressure-filled free throws at first. Four missed free throws mixed with four points from Martinez made it a two-point game with 42 seconds left.
To make matters worse for the home team, Winterstein, trying to guard Martinez, fouled out of the game with 30 seconds to go, but Mount Union lost the ball before they ever got a shot off.
The only starting senior on the Blue Devils\’ squad, L.J. Seidel, was fouled on the inbounds pass and calmly made both free throws to seal the game for Bellwood-Antis.
“We were a completely different team with that confidence. L.J., our senior, came out and made those big free throws to seal the game and really help the direction of our team,” Keech said.
Bellwood-Antis is back in action today when they host Claysburg-Kimmel. The junior varsity game will tip off at 6 p.m.
Junior Varsity
Tyler Elvey led Bellwood-Antis\’ junior varsity team to their first victory of the season with 13 points in a 41-31 victory over the Trojans. Frank Fortney and Zak Walters had eight points each in a losing effort.
Mount Union 51 Bellwood-Antis 57
MOUNT UNION – Brown 5 0-0 11, Pollicino 2 0-0 5, Park 1 0-0 2, Martinez 11 1-1 25, Wasson 1 0-0 2, McClure 1 0-1 2, Hollibaugh 2 0-0 4. TOTALS 23 1-2 51.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS – Hatch 3 1-2 8, Winterstein 7 0-2 16, Seidel 3 3-4 9, Christner 3 4-6 12, Wertz 3 4-6 10, Elvey 0 0-0 0, Boone 1 0-0 2, McCrum 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 20 12-20 57.
Score by Quarters
Mount Union 11 14 11 15 – 51
Bellwood-Antis 15 11 16 15 – 57
Three-point goals: Mount Union 4. (Martinez 2, Brown 1, Pollicino 1). Bellwood-Antis 5 (Winterstein 2, Christner 2, Hatch 1).