The Bucs scored first after Brandon Fowler made a pass in to George Waddell for two points. Boylan was blocked inside on the other end, but pulled out to a 10 – 2 lead. The Bucs were trying to work the perimeter and failing to grab rebounds. They took a time out at 5:40 left in the first period to talk things over and showed some immediate improvement. Their first score in three minutes was the result of a couple of quick hustles. Adam Cox grabbed the rebound, but on the second effort, the Titans grabbed it back, but George Waddell stole it away to score. The Bucs were fouled and Wade Mootrey made both shots at the line. Boylan seemed to be trading places with Belvidere, working around the perimeter while the Bucs drove inside. The Bucs grabbed another rebound and Waddell drove in, drawing off the defenders and passed it behind his back to Fowler – unguarded – to score. The Bucs were down 10 – 8. Boylan worked to stretch their lead, but the Bucs hung tough and were only down 15 – 12 at the end of the first quarter.
The Bucs came out aggressive in the second period, Wade Mootrey shot for two. Tim Ballenger came in on a substitution and went unnoticed by Boylan. He was standing unopposed under the basket, when he took a pass from Andrew Eck and scored, giving the Bucs a 16 – 15 lead with six minutes left in the quarter. The Titans came right back, but Ballenger punched the ball out of the hands of Boylan and Mootrey picked it up to run the other way. Josh Easley scored from three point range to allow the Bucs to extend their lead 19 – 15. Boylan took a time out to regroup. The Titans tied it up at 21 and took the lead when they made a free throw. But the Bucs drew a foul on Boylan and Brandon Fowler made both his free throws to retake the lead. Wade Mootrey made one of two to extend it 24 – 22. Boylan worked the perimeter, trying a three point shot. They worked the boards to keep control of the ball, but they couldn’t get it in until they were fouled. Boylan made both shots and tied the game at 24. Boylan had been held without scoring a point besides free throws for two minutes before they finally broke through and took the lead again. Josh Easley drew a foul. He missed his free throw, but Wade Mootrey grabbed the board and shot for two to tie the game again with a minute left on the clock. Easley drew another foul and this time made both shots to give the Bucs the lead again. The Titans tried to control the clock, running out as much of the last minute as possible, but they were called for traveling. While the Titans were able to steal the ball away again from the Bucs, they weren’t able to score and the Bucs hit the locker room at halftime with a 28 – 26 lead.
Josh Easley made the first shot of the third period to extend the Bucs lead to 4, but the Titans shut them down offensively and went on a 7 – 0 run to take a lead they would never relinquish. The Bucs played physical and Boylan had to work to keep the ball, but they were looking tired by the end of the period. Boylan took advantage of mental mistakes and sloppy ball handling to take a ten point lead near the end of the period. The Bucs pulled themselves together and got within 8 points of Boylan with about 4:30 left in the game, but that was as close as they could get. The Titans were hitting on all cylinders at that point; working both inside and outside, shooting three pointers, but also grabbing offensive rebounds for second try shots. As time ran down, the Bucs were forced to foul to stay in the game. The Titans didn’t make many of their free throws, but enough to balance out the shots Belvidere was making. The Titans passed around to eat up the clock in the last minute and finished the game 72 – 59 winners.
The tables were turned Saturday night at Belvidere North. Both sets of bleachers were packed with Belvidere faithful.
Neither team worked much inside as the game began. The Blue Thunder scored first off a Jack Adams free throw. Josh Easley made his first three pointer, but Jake Billon responded with a three of his own. Both defenses clamped down on the inside game and North was able to keep it close until Josh Easley broke it open in the final minute of the first period with a pair of three pointers. The Blue Thunder had to spread out their defenders to prevent the deep shots, but in so doing, allowed the Bucs to penetrate inside. In the second period, the Bucs continued to pull ahead, leading 40 – 19 at halftime. The Blue Thunder had issues with ball control and the Bucs took a page from the Titans and managed to be there for steals and rebounds.
At halftime, the Blue Thunder regrouped. Not every rebound went the Bucs way. Still, their ball handling kept them from getting any closer than 44 – 27. Halfway into the third period, the Bucs found a second wind and could seem to do no wrong. Adam Cox scored two lay ups, Josh Easley was fouled, but made both shots at the line. Moe Shahbain made both his foul shots a minute later. In between, Josh Easley drained another three and Andrew Eck made a jump shot just inside the perimeter. Dominique Hall finally stole the ball at the end of the period to make a lay up at the buzzer and end a two minute scoring drought.
With the game all but assured, the Bucs rotated out their starters. They didn’t score again in the last five minutes. Meanwhile, the Blue Thunder didn’t quit and managed a 24 – 0 run to get the crowd involved and make the score respectable. They finished the game with a steal by Daryn Streed and a fast break lay up for two points. The Bucs walked away with a 68 – 60 win.
The Bucs return home this weekend, playing a pair in Wood Gym against Jefferson tonight and Hononegah Saturday night. Both games start at 7:30.