Second-half struggles doom Belpre
Trimble claims 61-45 victory over Golden Eagles
BELPRE — Belpre held a 34-32 halftime lead Tuesday against Trimble, but the Golden Eagles only managed 11 points in the second half and fell 61-45.
Belpre (9-10) defeated Trimble 69-59 earlier this season in Glouster, but the Tomcats (13-3) prevailed this time around.
Brayden Weber and Blake Guffey scored 18 points apiece to lead Trimble, the leader in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division. Jeremiah Brown added 15 points while Cameron Kittle tallied 10 to round out the scoring for the Tomcats.
Connor Baker led all scorers with 25 points. The Belpre sophomore amassed 21 of his points in the first half, but was limited to four over the final two quarters.
“Gotta give Belpre a lot of credit for the way they played in the first half,” said Trimble head coach Howie Caldwell. “I think they wore down just a little bit in the second half.
“Our defense on Baker was much better in the second half,” Caldwell added. “I think he had 21 in the first half and ended up with 25. Our defensive rebounding was much better. I think sometimes people don’t realize how much conditioning plays into this. I thought our conditioning paid off in the second half. We ran our offense very, very well.”
Belpre head coach Tyler Leasure said the difference in the two halves came down to effort.
“Second half, I think our effort was really low,” said Leasure, whose team plays host to Federal Hocking Friday. “I think our effort was really high in the first half and that’s what I was just telling the guys. I’m not really disappointed in the way we played from a scheme standpoint. I think we did a good job of executing what we wanted to do, especially in the first half. Second half, I just think (Trimble) really tried to get after it a little more than we did. That’s really what it boiled down to.”
Trimble took a 10-9 lead in the first quarter on Weber’s drive and basket, but Belpre scored the final eight points of period, six from Baker, to go up 17-10.
Trimble didn’t regain the lead in the second period but did chew into Belpre’s cushion, even tying the game at 26-all on Kittle’s 3-pointer. Buckets by Eric Dotson and Baker put Belpre back up four, but Brown knocked down a trifecta to get Trimble back within one. A pair of baskets by Baker put the Golden Eagles up four again, but Guffey hit a pair of foul shots with 35 seconds in the quarter to make it 34-32 at halftime.
Coming out of the break, it was all Tomcats.
“They pressured us in the second half and we made turnovers we shouldn’t have been making,” Leasure lamented.
Trimble scored the first nine points of the third quarter to build a 41-34 advantage. Baskets by Baker and Logan Adams cut it to 41-38, but Trimble went on a 10-2 run to close the third quarter to make the score 50-40.
The fourth quarter didn’t get any better for the Golden Eagles as a putback by Guffey and a layup by Weber made it 54-40 at the 6:09 mark. Evan Wells drained a deep 3 to make it an 11-point game, but Belpre couldn’t get closer than that.
“Sometimes you can’t measure heart,” said Caldwell, whose team visits Southern Friday. “Our kids have got tremendous heart. They know they’re not very tall, but boy they battled and battled and battled. Very pleased in that regard.”
Guffey grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double. Weber added eight boards, five assists and three steals while Brown tacked on seven caroms and three swipes. Guffey and Sawyer Koons dished out four assists apiece.
Nick Godfrey produced a game-high 13 rebounds. Jeremiah Stitt, whose six points were second-most for Belpre, pulled down 10 boards. He also blocked five shots.