UNION CITY – It was a special night for Mississinawa Valley as the Blackhawks were firing on all cylinders led by three seniors all scoring in double figures on senior night in a 75-52 win over the Bethel Bees.
With the win Mississinawa improved to 9-3 in the Cross County Conference, sliding in front of Bethel to finish in third place as the Blackhawks bumped Bethel down to fourth place with an 8-4 record.
In the early going it was a tight game going back and forth and sat tied six all with 2:22 to play until Ethan Bowman stole the ball and went in with a left-handed layup as the Hawks went up 8-6, capturing the lead that they would never relinquish the rest of the game.
Colyn Nelson made a free throw to offset a charity toss from Bethel’s Caleb South to go up 9-7.
Mississinawa Valley totally packed the Hawks’ Nest on senior night … and up to this point in the contest the home crowd was unusually quiet … but when senior Dalton Geesy scored off a put-back with 46 seconds, the crowd and students came to life as they jumped up and blew the roof off the gym with noise and cheer.
It was a pre-planned event that on the 10th point of the game the home crowd would stand and cheer and has become sort of a tradition at Mississinawa.
“I want to give credit to our fans who have been packing the house,” MV boys basketball coach Tim Barga said. “When they get this place rocking their energy really helps out our team.”
It must have been the jolt the Hawks needed as Bowman followed up with a triple and his ninth point in the quarter as Mississinawa held a 14-7 advantage.
Ian Anderson knocked down a triple to start the second quarter for Bethel, closing to 16-10 … but the Hawks answered on back-to-back fielders from Nelson (eight points in second quarter) to go up 20-10 for the largest lead in the first half for Mississinawa.
Bethel played hard and finished the quarter strong but trailed at the half 31-23.
The Bees started the third frame with full-court pressure, trying to get the game a little more helter skelter, and forced two quick turnovers that led to points from Tyler Terry and South, cutting into the Hawk lead 31-27.
Mississinawa stayed poised and slowly began to attack the pressure, and when the Blackhawks broke it they weren’t afraid to take it to the basket if the opportunity was there.
Trent Perkins finished a couple of times in the quarter including a deuce at the 5:35 mark, giving MV a 40-29 lead.
The Hawks scored 20 points in the quarter to go up 51-38.
In the final stanza it was Blackhawks as they scored the first seven points with Geesy and Devan Rinderle finishing at the rim and Perkins connecting on a triple to go up 58-38 at 6:15.
Moment later Andrew Johns hit a triple from the right corner, and the lead went beyond 20 for the first time 61-40.
There would be no dramatic comeback for Bethel as Mississinawa finished the game strong, scoring 24 points in the final stanza on its way to a 75-52 win.
All three seniors left the floor in the final minutes of the game to a standing ovation and why not; they just beat one of the premier teams in the CCC.
Rinderle led the senior group with 15 points, Nelson had 13, and Geesy added 11. Sophomore Bowman was high scorer for Mississinawa with 18 points.
Bethel’s South led all scorers in the game with 21 points. No other Bethel player scored in double figures.
“The seven players who played tonight stepped up and made plays both offensively and defensively. It was a great effort,” Barga said.
For the seniors it was a memorable night and one they won’t forget.
“Hats off to our seniors tonight who played a whale of a game,” Barga said.
“Dalton Geesy came up with a couple of big blocks intimidating their big man,” Barga added.
“We had a lot of fun beating this team tonight … Bethel has beaten a lot of good teams this year, and for us to get this win on senior night, it was special,” Mississinawa big man Geesy said.
Barga couldn’t say enough about the growth and leadership that Rinderle has matured into for the team.
“Devan has really has stepped up for this team as a leader and learned a lot in the last couple of weeks, as we have beat a few good teams in that span,” Barga said..
“I’m proud of these guys. After the half Bethel tried to get the game a little fast, and we had a couple of turnovers … but we kept our composure, slowed it down and took control of the game, Rinderle said.
“I’m happy we were able to end on high note in our last game on our home floor … in the last couple of weeks we have been finding each other in the right spots at the right time and everybody is playing really well together, Rinderle added.
“He did his thing tonight scoring on offense, he was all over on defense, and he really took control of the team.” Barga said on his senior leader Rinderle.
“Colyn Nelson played a heck of a game tonight and finished strong,” Barga said.
“We love running the floor, and we have been playing with a lot of energy. It’s unbelievable the way we have finished this year in the conference,” Nelson said.
“We don’t want this to end yet. We want to make some noise in the tournament and continue to make memories,” Nelson added.
It would be the same thing Coach Barga would echo.
“Were playing really well right now, and that’s where we want to be going into the tournament,” Barga concluded.
It was a special night with special memories … but the Blackhawks aren’t finished yet in making memories.
Score by quarters:
Bethel…………. 07 … 16 … 15 … 14 – 52
Mississinawa … 14 … 17 … 20 … 24 – 75
Bethel (15-7, 8-4)
Tyler Terry 8, Caleb South 21, Connor Hockett 2, Nate Rimkus 3, Ian Anderson 5, Christian White 4, Evan Hawthorne 6, Jacob Evans 3 – Totals 2-16-14/23 – 52
Mississinawa Valley (15-7, 9-3)
Ethan Bowman 18, Trent Perkins 9, Colyn Nelson 13, Devin Rinderle 15, Andrew Johns 7, D.J. Howell 2, Dalton Geesy 11 – Totals 5-21-18/22 – 75
Bethel – 2 (Rimkus 1, Anderson 1)
Mississinawa – 5 (Bowman 2, Perkins 1, Rinderle 1, Johns 1)