HENDERSONVILLE – The Montgomery Bell Academy boys needed Tuesday night’s win at Pope John Paul II and they played with that sense of urgency.
Coming into the game at 5-7 in league play, MBA locked up the No. 5 seed, defeating the Knights 58-49 as Miles Versa and Will Montana led the Big Red in victory.
“I think we were ready to play tonight,” MBA coach Kevin Anglin said. “This game had a lot of implications as far as seeding and not that seeding has any bearing on your postseason, you still want the best seeding you can get. I liked the maturity, played well early and answered the bell in the fourth quarter.”
A four-point contest with just over one minute left in the third quarter, MBA closed out the remaining time on an 8-0 run including back-to-back offensive rebounds and put-backs to earn a 43-31 advantage at the end of 24 minutes
“I think that sequence really hurt us tonight,” JPII coach Charles Wade said. “We spoke to the team about that at the end of the second quarter. Those two really hurt us tonight and put us in the position we were in.”
Despite the momentum-shifting plays made by the Big Red to close out the third quarter, JPII cut the deficit to just four points with 3:46 left in the final quarter.
During that spell, MBA knocked in a 3-pointer and registered two offensive rebounds and put-backs to seize control of the contest and take the 9-point win.
Defensively, the Big Red limited Knights scorer Sam Specht to just two points in the final frame, earning praise from Anglin.
“For the most part, we did a good job on defense,” he said. “You want to take away the space as best you can, he is a good scorer, but I thought in the fourth quarter we were much better and more aware of where he was.”
The win improves MBA to fifth place while dropping JPII to seventh at 3-10 in conference play.
“We definitely need to take care of the basketball more moving forward,” Wade said. “We have to be better at rebounding and that has been our crutch this season, but that will happen with younger players but that is no excuse we have to be better as we head into the district tournament.”
For the Big Red, they replace all five starters from last season, but the young guys have stepped up and made big plays for Anglin this season leaving him confident as they head into the most important part of the year.
“We feel like we are just now getting whole and have shown the ability to be in games with the best teams,” Anglin added. “What I hope to see is us get over the hump; turn a one- or two-point loss into a win during the most important time of the year.”
BOYS BOX SCORE
MBA (58): Miles Versa 16, Will Montana 14, Harrison Taylor 9, Hunter Burch 7, Joel Elasy 6, Josiah Francis 2, Ned Freeland 2
JPII (49): Sam Specht 16, Michael Martini 12, Ben Nixon 8, Sabino Otira 6, Jarett Lucombe 4, Justin Murray 2, Elijah Hollins 1.