The Bellaire Big Reds are getting better.
And they earned a reward Saturday night for their efforts.
Using a strong second half and balanced scoring, the Big Reds posted a 65-53 victory against Barnesville inside the 'House of Champions.'
BARNESVILLE’S Brandon Burkhart goes up for a shot and is fouled by Bellaire’s Ryan Callarik during Saturday’s game in Bellaire. The Big Reds posted a 64-53 victory.
"Like I've told everyone, these kids have a lot of heart," said Bellaire head coach J.R. Battista. "We willed our way through this one tonight and that's a good sign for us. These kids practice as hard as they possibly can, try their hardest and keep getting better. It's nothing I do. It's these guys who are good kids, good students and try hard."
This is the second straight game the Big Reds have played well. Unlike Friday's loss to Buckeye Local, Bellaire was able to make plays down the stretch and take care of the lead.
"The difference is the kids made plays," Battista said. "If we make these same plays, we would be on a two-game winning streak. It's a simple game, you just have to put the ball in the basket."
The Big Reds found themselves with a 45-40 upperhand entering the fourth quarter.
All they did to begin the fourth was score on their first four possessions thanks to two buckets apiece by Hunter Westlake and Ryan Callarik, who turned in his finest performance of the season.
"Ryan Callarik played really well," Battista said. "He boarded well, finished really strong when he had his chances. That's what we need from him."
The lead swelled to 13 at that juncture and later grew to as many as 15 before the Shamrocks scored seven in a row to get within eight. However, the hole was just too deep. Nathan Steele was a sharp 6-of-6 at the line to help the Big Reds close it out.
"Give Bellaire a lot of credit because they played with a lot of heart and desire," said Barnesville head coach Chris Pack. "We just kind of wore down, didn't take care of the ball and gave them too many extra opportunities. We needed to come up with stops and they were killing us on the backside and just kept sticking it back in. If you let a team shoot until it scores, you're not going to beat them."
The Shamrocks, who were without two starters due to injury and sickness, came storming out of the gate, implementing a 1-3-1 defense that had Bellaire stymied. Barnesville led by 10 at a point in the first quarter, but the Big Reds got on a run and made it 16-12 at the first quarter break.
"We played bad early," Battista said. "I don't know why. We just played bad. We were fouling too much and doing things that helped them get off to such a good start."
Kenny Hess was once again his normal self for the Big Reds. He sliced his way to 17 points, which shared top honors with Callarik, who led the team on the boards with 14 rebounds.
Westlake came off the bench to net 11. Junior Nick Patrone finished with a workmanlike nine points and five steals. Steele, who battled foul trouble much of the game, managed to close with nine despite only one field goal.
Zach Houston had 25 points to pace the Shamrocks. David Stewart donated 10 points.
Barnesville managed a split by capturing the reserve game.
BARNESVILLE (53) - Anderson 1, 1-2 3; Burkhart 2, 4-6 8; MacMillan 0, 4-7 4; Stewart 4, 0-0 10; McGee 0, 0-0 0; L. Wells 1, 0-0 2; Houston 10, 5-8 25; Mankin 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 18, 14-23 53. BELLAIRE (65) - Steele 1, 7-8 9; Ramsay 0, 0-0 0; Callarik 8, 1-3 17; Westlake 5, 1-2 11; Back 0, 0-0 0; Patrone 4, 1-1 9; Hess 8, 1-9 17; Ellison 1, 0-0 2; Totals: 27, 11-24 65.
Three-Point Goals: Ba - Stewart (2). Be - None.