GOODY, Ky. — The Belfry Pirates are looking sharp as they head into the post-season.
BHS won a 70-69 heart-stopper last night at home in the final game of their regular season over instant rival, the Mingo Central Miners.
The Miners took the early lead and held on through three quarters. But the Bucs never gave up and continued to fight. With 6:40 left in the game, Belfry took its first lead of the night 54-53 on Josh Robinson’s pair of freethrows.
The lead was short-lived though, as Mingo seniors Jason May and Nick Lee sank back-to-back buckets for a 57-54 lead with 6:12 left. Nick Turner pulled BHS back to within a point but Lee scored on a put-back and May netted two. Mingo took a 61-56 lead.
Gary Runyon was sent to the line when May fouled him as he drove to the basket and the Belfry senior hit two from the nail. A turnover by the Miners led to a Messer basket and the Pirates were back within one.
The game continued to go from a 3-point lead to a 1-point advantage by Central and then the Pirates caught a break. Austin Banks hit one freethrow with 53.3 seconds in the game to put MCC up 66-65. The Pirates turned the ball over and picked up Mingo in a full-court man-to-man press.
Robinson fouled Corey Cook and in his excitement, Cook slammed the ball on the court hard enough for it to travel over the scorer’s table and hard enough to draw the referee’s attention that resulted in a costly technical foul on Mingo Central with 20.5 seconds in the contest.
Even after drawing the T, Cook made good on both freethrows.
It was Belfry’s turn at the line to shoot the technical. Runyon was given the task and he calmly hit both shots and MCC led 68-67.
BHS was then given possession of the ball but Runyon’s drive missed the mark.
Messer was forced to foul Banks and while the junior rarely misses at the line, he missed these freethrows. It remained 68-67 with 15.3 left.
A Belfry turnover seemed to seal the Pirates’ fate but a Robinson’s foul paid off as Cook hit one shot leaving a door slightly open as Mingo held a 2-point lead with 12.8 on the clock.
Runyon again drove to the basket but MCC smacked the ball out of bounds with 3.6 in the game. Belfry went to their big man who was money in the bank. Messer went up strong for two and with 1.7 seconds on the clock, he scored the basket to knot the game at 69 all.
And, he was fouled.
As BHS fans held their breath and Mingo fans stomped and screamed, Messer hit the freethrow that gave Belfry took the 1-point lead and the win.
BHS had four players in double figures. Messer led all scorers with 23 points and he briefly halted the game when he broke the school’s rebound record set back in 1990 by Mark Williamson who with 320. Messer hit 321 in the second half and finished with a double-double pulling down 14 boards.
Nick Turner hit several huge shots including a 3-pointer that tied the game with 2:03 left to play. The senior netted 16 points. Runyon stepped up with 14 points and four assists while Robinson scored 12.
“I thought we stayed strong at the end,” said BHS coach Randy Casey. “They got a lead and we were able to show some character at the end. We kept fighting. They missed a couple of freethrows that left the door open. I thought we played tough. The thing we have been looking for all year is finishing games. We didn’t turn it over in the end. We finished the game a lot stronger than we have and that’s the difference.”
And the Bucs stopped Central’s point guard Banks from taking control of the game.
“That was our game plan,” Casey said. “He’s their best player. Our game plan was to push out on him and track him and make him give it up. Okay, so he is going to split us a few times and he is going to score a few times but we are not going to let him control the game. Luckily it worked out for us.”
Mingo Central was led in scoring by Nick Lee and Corey Cook. Both seniors found the basket for 14 points each. Lee added 15 boards for a double-double. Banks added 12 and May hit 11.
“I was excited about the way our kids played,” said MCC head coach Duane Estep. “Nick Lee is looking like he is getting a little bit more spring in his step. His leg has hurt him all season. He hurt himself in football. I think Troy (Starr) is coming on strong at the right time. We have struggled for a game or two but we are coming back pretty strong.”
Troy Starr didn’t shoot that much during the game and finished with six points. But the senior played unselfish and his teammates benefited as Starr dished out 7 assists.
Central led in rebounds pulling down 41 boards. The Miners gave up the rock 13 times. MCC went to the line 27 times and hit 18 for 66.7 percent.
Belfry recorded 37 boards and 11 turnovers. The Pirates also hit 18 freethrows after 30 trips to the stripe for 60 percent.
“We played well,” Estep said. “We told the kids not to put their heads down, they played well. We just didn’t make a couple of foul shots down the stretch when we should have. And an unfortunate call on a technical foul on a kid that was just excited about making a good play.”
“We played hard over here,” he continued. “We knew it was a much improved Belfry team. It was the last game of the season for Belfry so you knew they were going to bring it.”
BHS improved to 9-16 with the win and will play the winner of Pike Central and Phelps on Feb. 24 at Phelps for the district championship.
Mingo fell to 12-9 for the year and will travel to Tolsia for its final game of the season on Feb. 21.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MCC: 20 19 12 18
BHS: 14 17 18 21
Mingo Central: A. Banks 12, C. Cook 14, N. Lee 14, T. Starr 6, A. Lee 3, D. Hatfield 7, J. May 11 and A. Cline 2.
Belfry: B. Charles 2, N. Turner 16, T. Messer 23, J. Robinson 12, G. Runyon 14 and J. Duty 3.