Bellaire boys post first victory at SJC

It’ll certainly be a much merrier Christmas for J.R. Battista and the Bellaire Big Reds’ basketball team.

After competing well most times out, but falling short in all of their previous seven games, the Big Reds broke into the win column decisively Saturday afternoon.

Bellaire crossed the street and avenged its first loss of the season with a 63-47 victory against St. John Central inside the ‘Greehouse.’

“It’s a Christmas miracle and we’ll take it especially when you’re 0-7 and feeling pretty bad about yourself,” a relieved Battista said. “We’ve played pretty well in most games we’ve played with the exception of Indian Creek and Edison. There’s a big difference in being competitive and winning, but there’s also a big difference and not competing. Congratulations to the kids because they deserve this. Their effort is supreme.”

In the meeting at Bellaire, the Irish jumped out on the Big Reds and led by as many as 19 twice in the first half before the Big Reds clawed their way back into the game.

There was no such big run from the Irish, who dropped to 1-5.

Bellaire led 13-11. The Big Reds had five different players score in the first, while senior post D.J. Shoemaker netted all of the Irish’s points.

“We played better on defense,” Battista said. “I tell the kids all the time that our will has to outlast everyone’s skill because we’re not the most skilled basketball team. Only way we can be in games is to out-will people, but tonight, we made some buckets.”

The Big Reds got on a run in the second quarter thanks to a pair of triples from Nathan Steele, a five-point burst from Wyatt Back and five points from Kenny Hess, who is certainly emerging as the Big Reds’ primary offensive weapon.

It resulted in Bellaire taking a 33-27 upperhand into the intermission. The Big Reds kept their foot on the gas in the second half. Plus, they continually went to Hess in the high post, who made the Irish pay. He scored 12 of his game-high 28 in the third as Bellaire outscored the Green, 16-4.

“It always helps when you can make buckets,” Battista continued. “You know they call it basketball for a reason. The ball is supposed to go in the basket, so we’re getting better in that area.”

Hess’ production, which also included 10 rebounds, was complemented by Steele, who finished with 16 points.

St. John, meanwhile, was led by Shoemaker’s 17 points and 13 rebounds. Garrett Holubeck donated 10 points.

The Big Reds (1-7) are off until Jan. 4 when they take on Martins Ferry.

No reserve game was contested.


BELLAIRE (63) – Steele 7, 0-0 16; Ramsay 0, 0-0 0; Kimbro 1, 0-1 2; Callarik 1, 1-2 3; Westlake 1, 2-2 4; Back 2, 0-0 5; Pickens 0, 0-0 0; Ky. Hess 0, 0-0 0; Patrone 1, 2-7 4; Kovalyk 0, 0-0 0; Hall 0, 0-0 0; Ke. Hess 11, 6-9 28; Bentz 0, 0-0 0; Ellison 0, 1-4 1; Totals: 24, 12-25 63. ST. JOHN (47) – Francis 1, 3-4 5; Shoemaker 4, 9-10 17; Holubeck 3, 3-6 10; Ford 1, 1-2 3; Alvey 2, 1-6 5; Palmer 0, 0-1 0; Clemons 0, 0-0 0; Murray 0, 1-2 1; Bossell 1, 0-0 2; Melko 1, 0-2 2; Imer 1, 0-0 2; Totals: 14, 18-33 47.

Three-Point Goals: B – Steele (2), Back. SJC – Holubeck.

Staskey can be reached at