First quarters can be deceiving.
Opening with a 10-9 first-quarter lead, the Dekalb Barons (5-3, 0-1 in the NE8) looked as though they could challenge the Bellmont girls’ basketball team Saturday night at the Teepee. But the Braves (7-1, 1-0) quickly put that notion to rest by outscoring the Barons 17-4 in the second quarter and 18-8 in the third on their way to a lopsided 61-31 NE8 victory.
Two big runs keyed the Braves’ dominance in those middle quarters. An 11-0 run to close the second quarter turned a slim 15-14 lead into a 26-14 Bellmont advantage at halftime. Then, after the Barons scored the first four points of the third quarter, the Braves reeled off 13 straight points to take an insurmountable 39-18 lead.
Freshman Kate Kitson started the second-quarter run with a putback at the 6:00 mark. She followed with one of two free throws after being fouled on a drive, and with 1:50 left, she hit a three-pointer from the right corner. Hailey Cole’s 15-foot jumper and Belle Laurent’s three-pointer completed the rally.
Four different Braves scored in the 13-0 blitz, with Cole and Emily Bleke scoring four each. Bleke also contributed a dramatic assist when she corralled Laurent’s missed three-point attempt and, falling out of bounds under the basket, rifled a pass to Cole on the right elbow for a jumper.
Cole led all scorers with 19 points on seven field goals and 5-of-6 shooting from the free throw line. Bellmont’s swarming defense frustrated the Barons’ usual leading scorer, Ashely Cox, and held her to nine points. The Braves made it difficult for her to drive, and when she also had a tough time getting open looks from outside, she resorted to several unsuccessful three-point attempts from well beyond the arc.
“She’s a good three-point shooter, but she wants to get to the rim, and I think that’s where her frustration started,” Heim said. “We knew she liked the right-hand drive and a sort of a slide-through to get through people, and Hailey is such a freak athlete in there—to get by her is really hard. She (Cox) then got frustrated because of that.”
Heim thought his team was perhaps a bit too keyed up in that lackluster first quarter. “We were so amped up to start this game,” he said. “I think it was just too much adrenalin.”
In the second quarter, the Braves’ full-court 1-2-2 press helped turn things around as they forced the Barons into five turnovers, many of which the Braves converted into easy baskets. The Braves kept the press on almost the whole game, causing several of Dekalb’s 21 turnovers. The Braves turned it over only 10 times.
“I thought we did a really nice job in our full-court press,” praised Heim. “Anytime we can play fast but under control in that trap, I think we’re a really good basketball team.”
Bellmont had a solid shooting night, going 14-for-31 (45%) on twos, 8-for-20 (40%) on threes, and 9-for-13 (69%) on free throws.
Kitson finished with nine points, while Bleke and Belle Laurent scored eight each. Kamryn Jarvis added seven, Lanie French five, Lillian Garner three, and Ella Franze two.
Freshman Abbie Harris led Dekalb with 11.
Bellmont won the JV game 27-22. Emma Fuelling led the Braves with nine points, and Bri Converset had six. Grace Pfister led Dekalb with 10.
The Braves will travel to Bishop Luers next Wednesday.