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Championship bound!! Bellefonte tops Hollidaysburg to advance to D6 title tilt

By Kenny Varner

BELLEFONTE – Three’s a charm. Nine threes to be exact!

The Bellefonte boys basketball team also found themselves playing Mountain League foe Hollidaysburg to determine who will head to the District 6 5A championship title game held at Mount Aloysius Friday.

The Red Raiders brought out the brooms, sweeping the Tigers and advancing the the championship game with a convincing 63-45 contest.

One of the keys to the Bellefonte victory was its defensive strangle hold on the middle.

Defensively, Bellefonte controlled the middle for much of the first half while its offense started out hitting the treys which opened up the middle for them in the second.

“I was pleased in the first quarter. The first half we did a better job stopping dribble penetration. They’re (Hollidaysburg) a team that likes to dribble and kick. We really had to stay home and play one-on-one defense,” said Bellefonte coach Rick Hall. “We made a couple adjustments at halftime because Carson Rhodes was killing us on dribble penetration. We jumped to a match up zone and slowed them down.”

Bellefonte had a trio shooters post three 3-point shots on the contest.

Leading the offensive punch on the night were Gannon Brungard who sizzled in the second en route to a 22-point effort while Blair Eckley-Jones who posted 19.

DJ McCaslin just missed double-digit scoring with nine, all of which were from behind the 3-point line.

“Offensively, we struggled early. I think it was just jitters. Our feet weren’t set on our shots and we were shooting to quick said Hall. “But once we got ball movement and everything like that they did a great job!

In the first, the Tigers got out to quick 4-0 lead.

However, the lead was temporary as Ty Kroell and McCaslin scored on consecutive trips down court.

Kroell posted a runner in the lane, putting his team on the board.

McCaslin stood back and hit an early triple, giving the Raiders a lead that they would never relinquish, 5-4.

After forcing another turnover, Bellefonte set up its offense and worked the ball around to try to get the best shot. They were able to find Eckley-Jones who came to the top of

line and he took the ball straight down the middle of the key. When going up for the shot, Eckley-Jones was fouled. He stepped up to the charity stripe and drilled both free throws.

The Tigers got back on the board when Carson Rhodes hit 1-of-2 from the line.

Eckley-Jones was back at it on the following possession as he made a run to the 3-point line and sank a picture perfect triple, upping it to a 10-5 advantage with 2:21 left.

Hollidaysburg need the quarter with a bucket but Bellefonte still held a 10-7 advantage.

The Tigers were able to start the second quarter closing in on the Bellefonte lead cutting it to a 13-11 contest.

But Brungard sizzled in the second, outscoring the Tigers by himself, posting a personal 9-0 run, giving his team a little breathing room at 22-11.

Teammate Nick Way kept the run going, hitting shot on a back door pass from Eckley-Jones.

Hollidaysburg was able to cut into the run but it would be Brungard that would score the last of his 11 points on an inside shot with 1:40 left in the half.

When the buzzer sounded to end the first half, Bellefonte was just one half away from a Friday night championship game, leading 26-16.

In the second half, Bellefonte was able to continue its dominance as it outscored the Tigers 18-12 in the third, making it a 44-28 game going into the final stanza.

From there, the Red Raiders controlled the contest, passing the ball around the key to take valuable time off the court. It was successful as Bellefonte still outscored the Tigers 19-17 en route to the victory.

Bellefonte will now travel to Mount Aloysius for a 7:30 contest against a team to be named later.

Bellefonte 63, Hollidaysburg 45

H   7  9 12  17 –  45

B 10 16 18 19 –  63

Scoring: Hollidaysburg – Mason Goodman 2 0-2 4, Carson Rhodes 6 1-2 14, Jack Naugle 1 0-0 3, Jacob Hileman 2 3-5 7, Bryce Martellacci 2 0-0 6, Jake McGinnis 3 0-0 9, Rocco Grassi 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 4-9 45.

Bellefonte – Luke Fisher 0 2-2 2, Eric Bennett 0 1-2 1, Ty Kroell 2 0-0 4, Nick Way 2 2-2 6, Gannon Brungard 8 3-4 22, DJ McCaslin 3 0-0 9, Blair Eckley-Jones 6 4-4 19. Totals 21 12-14 63.

Played but didn’t score: Hollidaysburg – None. Bellefonte – Alex Ebling 0 0-0 0, Cole Crissman 0 0-0 0.

3-point shots: Hollidaysburg – Rhodes, Naugle, Martellacci 2, McGinnis 3. Bellefonte – Eckley-Jones 3, McCaslin 3, Brungard 3.

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