PITSBURG – The Bethel Bees used a strong first quarter advantage to help them hold off a hard-charging Franklin Monroe team late, pulling out a key early season game in the Cross County Conference, 66-58.
Prior to the game FM held its Homecoming festivities and crowned Kyle Ressler as king and Grace Fee as queen.
Bethel came out smoking hot on four 3-pointers in the first quarter and 19 points.
Franklin Monroe tried to answer with 5 points from Kyle Ressler, but the team could only muster 10 points in the opening quarter.
The Jets’ scoring opportunities inside were very limited due to the presence of 6-foot 8-inch senior Alex VanHaaren, who swatted anything that came close to the rim.
Coming into the game Bethel’s Ryan Rose was averaging 28 points a game and deadly from the perimeter. FM coach Troy Myers countered by subbing Jordan Rhoades to guard him, and the junior held Rose to just one triple in the second quarter.
Rhoades grabbed his own offensive rebound and put it back in at the 6:37 mark of the second quarter, pulling FM to 21-17, but the Bees made a small run and in just a minute widened the lead again to 30-17.
The score remained that way for almost three minutes until Ethan Conley scored on back-to-back fielders, and the Jets would trail at the half 32-23.
Franklin Monroe made an adjustment after the break and started to attack the basket. The Jets were successful enough to draw two fouls from the Bees’ big man, sending him to the bench.
The Jets erupted for 22 points in the third quarter led by Conley with 11 points and Zach Cable with 6.
Bethel put up 15 points as Rose broke free for a couple of triples and 8 points and Kendal James 5, and the Bees’ margin had slipped to 47-45.
Conley converted on an old-fashioned 3-point play to put FM up 48-47 at the seven-minute mark of the final stanza, but Jacob Evans would make his fourth triple on the night to regain the lead, 50-48.
Bryce Filbrun answered with a deep triple in the corner to go back up 51-50, and the house was rocking.
Bethel maintained composure and with all the focus on the perimeter shooters the Bees were able to find their big man, VanHaaren, inside for 6 unanswered points to go back on top 57-51.
At 2:36 senior Ressler was good from beyond the arch to pull within a score 57-54. The Jets had an opportunity to pull closer but failed to capitalize, and Bethel converted 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to preserve the 66-58 win.
Bethel made 11 treys on the night and was led in scoring by Rose, who was held below his average with 23 points. James had 12, Jacob Evans 12, and VanHaaren added a triple-double with 12 blocks, 11 rebounds and 10 points.
Franklin Monroe was led in scoring from Conley with 23 points, Ressler had 13 and Cable 10.
Bethel improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the CCC while the Jets fell to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the league.
“We feel very fortunate to come here and get the win tonight,” Bethel boys basketball coach Brett Kopp said. “Franklin Monroe is well coached and one of the better teams in our conference, and to come here and get the win when we are down a few players is nice.”
Bethel’s all-state guard Caleb South has been out with a foot injury and projected to return in early January. Bethel was also without its sixth man Friday night and had limited substitutions, but the Bees were able to play through it.
“Our kids are winners,” Kopp said. “They play hard and know how to win. They are the same kids who did it in football and soccer.”
Franklin Monroe’s coach was unavailable for comments after the game.
Score by quarters
BE ….. 19 … 13 … 15 … 19 – 66
FM .… 10 …. 13 … 22 … 13 – 58
Bethel – James 12, Jacob Evans 12, VanHaaren 10, Hamlin 9, Rose 23
Totals 11-12-11/15 – 66
Franklin Monroe – Kyle Ressler 14, Bryce Filbrun 6, Jordan Rhoades 3, Zach Cable 10, Parker Hesler 2, Ethan Conley 23 – Totals: 5-17-9/13 – 58
BE – 11(Rose 6, Evans 4, James 1)
FM – 5(Ressler 2, Filbrun 2, Conley 1)