Bellaire rallies by cross-street rival St. John

Rivalry games sometimes bring out in the best in teams. And sometimes, the worst.

Such was the case Monday night when Guernsey Street rivals Bellaire and St. John Central hooked up in a game that featured some 60 turnovers.

When it was all said and done, the Big Reds (4-10) had prevailed by a 46-40 count inside the St. John Central Greenhouse before a large turnout in girls’ basketball action.

“I’ll take it,” Bellaire’s Marci Bonar said after the poorly-played contest, which resulted in a combined 59 turnovers, 27 of which were by her Big Reds. “When you’re struggling like we’ve been, a win is a win.”

Behind a tenacious fullcourt press, Bellaire forced 15 Lady Irish turnovers, in the first quarter alone, in running out to a 17-9 advantage. A quick spurt in the first part of the second quarter bumped the margin to a game-high nine, 25-16, but St. John Central (8-5) started to slowly slice into the deficit as Kristen Russell tallied eight of her game-high 15 points as the visitors held a 29-24 halftime lead.

“Our press in the first half was phenomenal,” Bonar said with a huge smile. “We missed, I’d say, about 12 layups and a lot of our free throws, but we still won. That just shows how much we hustled.

“The good thing is, I went down in the lockerroom and expected them to be all happy and screaming stuff because we won, but they weren’t. I said, ‘girls, we just won. Aren’t we happy?’ and they said, ‘no we’re dead.’

“I said that’s the way they’re supposed to feel and they couldn’t have given one more ounce of effort. I’m proud of them.”

Despite the early barrage of turnovers, some missed layups of their own and some foul troubles, St. John Central head coach Robert “Bubba” Kapral liked where his team stood.

“We thought we took their best shot and we felt good at halftime,” admitted Kapral, who watched his team turn the ball over 22 times in 16 minutes. “It’s a two possession game with us committing 32 turnovers and missing countless layups.”

A Russell layup completed the Irish comeback as it deadlocked the game at 34 with two minutes remaining in the third period.

After a Bellaire turnover, Kaydie Coppa’s layup with 32 ticks clicking put the hosts ahead, 36-34.

However, that would be their first – and last – lead of the night as Bellaire’s Katie Fry scored the final five points of the half for a 39-36 Big Reds lead.

With time running down in the stanza, Fry took a pass from Kierstin Kidder and buried a three-point bomb from the right corner ahead of the buzzer.

“That was a huge shot by Katie,” Bonar described. “That got us our momentum back going into the fourth quarter.

” After that, I felt like we had our confidence back.”

St. John Central did itself no help in the fourth quarter as it misfired on its first dozen shots from the floor and only tallied four markers.

Bellaire, however, kept the contest close by only notching seven points of its own, but it was good enough for the victory, which salvaged a regular-season split between the two teams.

Fry led Bellaire with 13 points and 10 steals. Casey Garloch yanked down 12 of her team’s 49 rebounds, with Mackenzie Conroy adding nine boards. Both netted seven points. Garloch also charted five thefts.

In addition to her game-high point total, Russell pulled down 13 rebounds for the Irish. Rosa Young had 10 caroms, while Lacee Dobrovich came off the bench to record half-a-dozen steals.

St. John Central travels to Linsly Wednesday for a 6 p.m. varsity-only start. Bellaire hosts Martins Ferry Thursday.

No reserve game was contested.

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