Neil lifts Big Reds


Times Leader Sports Writer

BELLAIRE – On a night when one of Bellaire’s greatest boys’ basketball teams was honored, the current edition of the Big Reds put on quite a show Friday night.

Bolting out to an early 12-0 lead, the hosts (3-3) never looked back in rolling past visiting St. John Central (1-4) by an 86-65 margin before members and coaches of the 2003-04 squad which advanced to the Division III Final Four.

“We played good in spurts, but we played bad in spurts,” Bellaire head coach J.R. Battista explained. “We made enough plays to win, and as a coach, you’ll always take a win.”

He said getting out to the quick lead was a big key in the Big Reds’ success against the Irish.

“We can play better,” he added. “And we will play better. We got the big lead early by making some easy shots. But, then again, we missed some easy shots, as well. We’re just not consistent yet, but we will be.

“We’re still young as far as quality game experience goes,” he said.

“By that I mean, those 50-point losses last season don’t count as meaningful minutes because you’re getting buried. Now they’re getting more meaningful minutes and it’s starting to show.”

Junior Tyler Ramsay scored the first four points of the game to get Bellaire going, and high-scoring sophomore Michael Neil chipped in eight of his career-high 30 points in the opening period that saw the Big Reds led 22-10.

“We can’t afford to spot anybody 12 points the way we have trouble scoring,” St. John Central head coach Kevin Lahna lamented. “You can’t give mediocre teams a 12-point lead, let along a team the caliber of Bellaire.

“Hats off to our kids because I thought we played with them for three-and-a-half quarters,” he continued. “That bad start is what did us in.”

Senior Nathan Steele dialed long-distance three times in the second quarter, and Ramsay (8) and Neil (7) teamed for 15 as Bellaire held a 50-32 lead at the half.

An 11-1 start to the third quarter sealed the deal as Ramsay’s conventional three-point play ignited the scoring spree. Neil had seven in the run.

Neil would complete his fine outing with eight points in the final period before fouling out with 3:37 left to play. He shot 9 of 18 from the floor and meshed 11 of 13 charity tosses. he also charted five rebounds, three steals and two assists.

He was joined in double digits by Ramsay with career-high 18, while Steele was one behind at 17. Ramsay also collected game honors with 11 rebounds as Bellaire held a commanding, 50-27, advantage off the glass. Ryan Callarik had eight boards.

Freshman Guy Pagano led the Irish with 25 points. Garrett Holubeck chipped in 17 and Lance Williams nine.

“Guy is only a freshman, so he’s still learning,” Lahna admitted. “It’s still a learning process for all of us, but we’re getting there. This was just another step.”

Bellaire welcomes Barnesville Monday night. St. John Central visits Bishop Donahue.

No JV game was played.


Bellaire 86, St. John Central 65

ST. JOHN CENTRAL (65) – Williams 4 0-0 9; Holubeck 6 5-6 17; Ford 1 0-0 2; Pagano 8 6-9 25; Bossell 2 0-0 4; Clark 2 1-2 5; Whorton 0 0-0 0; Opic 1 1-1 3; Murry 0 0-0 0; Jones 0 0-0 0; Schnegg 0 0-0 0; Rataiczak 0 0-0 0; Totals: 24-57 13-18. BELLAIRE (86) – Steele 4 6-6 17; Ramsay 8 2-5 18; Callarik 3 0-0 6; Ke. Hess 1 1-2 3; Neil 9 11-13 30; Back 0 3-4 3; Westlake 1 0-0 2; Kimbro 1 0-0 2; Hall 0 2-2 2; Kovalyk 0 0-0 0; Pickens 1 0-0 3; Ky. Hess 0 0-0 0; Wiggins 0 0-0 0; Totals: 28-60 25-32.

Three-Point Goals: St. John Central 4 (Pagano 3, Williams); Bellaire 5 (Steele 3, Neal, Pickens)

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