Bellefonte Red Raiders slay Dragons at home, 61-47
By Kenny Varner
For The Express
BELLEFONTE – From beginning to end Friday night, the Bellefonte boys basketball team was ready and eager to show fans and the Central Red Dragons what they were made of.
After battling though some tough games early on this season, the Red Raiders didn’t give the Dragons any chance of handing them a loss as they defeated Central convincingly, 61-47.
It was an almost perfect team effort on the night to accomplish the feat as Central’s top scorer, Joey Smith, could not get much going in the final stanza, only hitting two from the free throw line. Smith had his 23-point night and teammate Noah Muthler chipped in with 14 but the rest of the team was held to just a combined 10 points.
Leading the way offensively for Bellefonte was Caleb Rockey who was a force to be reckoned with down under, finishing with a double-double of 18 points and 13 boards.
Teammate Nate Tice came up with some clutch triples when he had to, finishing his night with a 15-point effort. Ben McCartney, who seemed to be everywhere tonight, earned all of his 10 points picking up difficult shots and pulling down clutch rebounds. He just missed a double-double of his own as he was just three boards shy of double-digits.
Two unsung heros of the night for the Red Raiders were Nick Fisher and Joey Maggs.
Despite his height, Fisher was able to hang with the big bodies and pull down six rebounds while Maggs came through on some clutch free throws to squash a late Central threat. He also was the floor leader as he controlled the ball solidly when the Dragons tried putting extreme pressure on Bellefonte coming up the court.
“We needed that one in a big way. We just came out and played Bellefonte basketball. We really played as one and when we can do that we can be a very solid team,” said Bellefonte coach Kris Glunt. “Our record right now is not indicative of a real good team, but I have a lot of confidence in these guys and they came out and shared the basketball tonight. They really locked it down defensively. I’m so proud of our kids.”
From the opening tip, the Red Raiders seemed ready as it was very patient in its offensive movement and its shot selection.
After falling behind by three after Central’s first possession, Bellefonte worked the ball around until they were able to feed it to Tice on the wing. His shot inside the circle was good, cutting it 3-2.
The Red Raiders defense took center stage and got the ball back to its offense via a turn over.
They worked the ball into the paint to Rockey and he muscled his way up for the shot and the lead.
Central’s Luke Williams quieted the crowd temporarily as he hit his second triple of the contest, upping the lead back into the Red Dragons’ side.
However, that would be the last lead Central would have the rest of the way.
As soon as Williams triple went in, the Red Raiders had a sharpshooter of their own and went to him. Tice put his team ahead 7-6 as he hit nothing but net on a triple from downtown, with 4:53 left in the first.
From there, Bellefonte dominated the boards and ended the first stanza going on a 12-4 run.
In that run, the Red Raiders got two consecutive triples by Bailey Decker. Decker finished with nine points, all of which came from beyond the 3-point arc.
Holding a 15-6 advantage, Bellefonte held onto the lead as the first came to an end, leading 17-9.
The defense would continue to frustrate the 9-2 Dragons as it couldn’t get any sustained drives in the first half.
But Central’s defense tightened in the second quarter as well, taking the teams into the half with the Red Raiders holding a very comfortable 29-17 advantage.
Try as they may to get something going and chip away at the lead, Central fed the ball to Smith and he did not disappoint as he posted 11 of his team’s 15 points in the period. Smith would score in transition, off the dribble and even on the offensive boards.
But Rockey was just warming up as he went and attacked the basket from inside the paint, scoring seven while Bailey Decker and Tice chipped in three and four points, respectively.
Going into the final stanza, the Red Raiders held a 45-32 advantage.
Like all good teams, Central would have one last run in them as it tried to get back into the ball game.
The Dragons would get to as close as 10, at 47-37 with 5:58.
But that would be as close as the Red Raiders would allow them to get as they would go for the 14-point victory.
“We always talk about togetherness and toughness every night we are going to have to have guys step up and contribute in a big way,” Glunt said. “That’s going to be the key to success. Hopefully this can spark something for us.”