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Missed free throws haunt Blue Devils in double overtime loss

For most of the season Bellwood-Antis Head Coach Tim Keech has been concerned that his team\’s poor free throw shooting may eventually cost them a game. Monday night, despite a strong effort in almost every other capacity of the game, the Blue Devils fulfilled Keech\’s prophecy by letting an eight point lead with 1:05 left in the game slip away in a 66-61 double overtime loss at Mount Union.
Paul Christner and Alan Wertz both missed the front end of one-and-one free throw chances, giving Bubba Brown the opportunity to score the game tying basket as time expired.
Brown added two free throws in the finals seconds of the second overtime to lock up the win, something the Blue Devils had failed to do with the game in hand during regulation.
“Within the last minute of the game, we had two kids go to the free throw line, and both missed the front end of a one-and-one. They didn\’t tie it up until the very end, so if we make both of them, we still have them back on their heels, and I think if we either made our free throws in regulation or the first overtime, we win this game,” Keech said.
Missed free throws weren\’t the only problem Bellwood-Antis encountered. John Martinez, who scored 25 points against the Blue Devils earlier this season, scored a game high 29 points, four of them coming in the second overtime. Brown added 19 and was 6-8 from the free throw line.
Many of Martinez and Brown\’s points came on second chance opportunities.
“Mount Union really did a good job in the fourth quarter and in overtime getting second shots, and we talked time and time again that sometimes we rely too much on Alan because he\’s tall, and we get a little lax on our boxing out, and we turn and go to the board, and we get really hurt on that,” Keech said.
Before the Trojans mounted their comeback in the fourth quarter, it was the Blue Devils who were forced to overcome a six point deficit after the first quarter.
Although the Blue Devils gained no ground in the second quarter, Blaze Winterstein, who led Bellwood-Antis with 27 points, ensured they did not fall any farther behind with a nine point quarter, before a 7-0 run to begin the second half gave the Blue Devils a 30-29 lead.
Bellwood-Antis held the Trojans scoreless until 3:11 left in the quarter when Ryan Pollicino managed a layup, but the Blue Devils quickly regained the lead on a L.J. Seidel layup and a Christner 3-pointer.
Mount Union responded with a 6-0 run to take a 37-35 lead, but Winterstein tied the game in the final seconds of the quarter with a layup.
The Blue Devils rode that momentum on a 14-6 run, featuring eight points and two 3-pointers from Winterstein, to take a 51-43 lead, but with 1:03 remaining, Martinez made a 3-pointer that set up the Blue Devils\’ collapse.
With 36 seconds left, Brown made one of two free throws, and after a Blue Devil turnover, Martinez made both of his free throws with 26 seconds left to pull the Trojans within two.
After Bellwood-Antis failed to convert any of their late free throws, Brown nailed a turn-around jumper as time expired.
The Blue Devils scored the first three points of overtime, all on free throws, but with the score 56-55, Seidel made only one of two free throws, and Martinez tied the game with a long jumper.
With 12 seconds left, the Blue Devils called a timeout to set up their final play, but Ben Hatch\’s shot never hit the rim.
“We had a play set up, and to Mount Union\’s credit, they defended it very well, and Ben did what he had to do, to at least get a shot off. We were trying to run a pick and roll, because they switching a lot, and we thought if we could get Ben and Alan running that we could get Ben from the foul line or Alan open under the basket,” Keech said.
Mount Union\’s attempt at trickery failed in the final second of the first overtime. With :01.8 left on the clock, the Trojans called a timeout and sent four players on the court while Brown knelt on the floor in the corner near the Mount Union basket, but Bellwood-Antis picked him up, and a desperate full court heave never came close.
The Trojans and Blue Devils traded baskets to begin the second overtime before Martinez made a jumper to give Mount Union the lead for good.
Hatch, who was 6-6 from the foul line, made two free throws to bring Bellwood-Antis within one at 62-61, but Winterstein was called for traveling with 37 seconds left, and Martinez and Brown each made two free throws in the final 20 seconds to clinch the victory.
Despite his team\’s tough loss, Keech does not feel like Bellwood-Antis will carry this loss with them into their next game.
“I can not fault their effort; these kids just played their hearts out tonight. Everyone played so hard, and that was our theme going into this game. I think we played harder than they did for longer than they did, but the free throws, you don\’t play hard on the free throw line,” Keech said.
The Blue Devils travel to Claysburg-Kimmel Wednesday night. The junior varsity game will begin at 6 p.m.
Junior Varsity
Alan Wertz, Eric McCrum and Tyler Elvey all scored nine points in Bellwood-Antis\’ victory over Mount Union in the junior varsity game. The Blue Devils used a 9-12 free throw shooting performance in the first half to build their lead. Cody Hollibaugh scored a game high 14 points in a losing effort.
Mount Union 66 Bellwood-Antis 61 (2 OT)
BELLWOOD-ANTIS – Hatch 3 6-6 12, Winterstein 11 1-3 27, Christner 2 2-5 7, Seidel 2 1-2 5, Wertz 4 0-1 8, McCrum 1 0-0 2, Elvey 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, DeGol 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 23 10-17 61
MOUNT UNION – Park 3 0-3 7, Brown 6 6-8 19, Wasson 0 0-0 0, Martinez 11 4-6 29, Pollicino 4 1-2 9, Hollibaugh 1 0-0 2, Walters 0 0-0 0, McClure 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 25 11-19 66.
Score by Quarters
Bellwood-Antis 12 11 14 14 6 4 – 61
Mount Union 18 11 8 14 6 9 – 66
Three-point goals: Bellwood-Antis 5 (Winterstein 4, Christner).
Mount Union 5 (Martinez 3, Brown, Park).