ANSONIA – Ansonia led Bethel 31-30 at halftime Saturday night, but the defending Cross County Conference champion Bees outscored the Tigers 40-24 in the second half to win 70-55.
Though his team came up short in its home opener, Ansonia boys basketball coach Chad Cramer was proud of the effort the Tigers showed.
“I thought our guys showed a lot of good things tonight,” Cramer said. “Hunter Muir was really sick. I don’t know if people knew that, and he gutted through it. I think that says a lot about him. He had a pretty good game. We had a couple guys get hurt. Some guys stepped up and get in there and really fought. I thought our effort was really good. I thought it was a much better, closer game than the final ended up.”
Muir, who finished the game with a team-high 18 points, wasn’t the only Tiger hurting on Saturday. Brayden Swabb also was sick, and Trevor Alexander injured his shoulder in the third quarter.
“Brayden was sick tonight, too,” Cramer said. “Even Trevor dislocated his shoulder, and he gave it a shot to go back. It means something to our guys, and I enjoyed watching us compete out there.”
Bethel wasn’t at full strength either as the Bees were without reigning CCC player of the year Caleb South, who missed Saturday’s game with an injury. But even without South, Bethel showed it’s one of the top teams in the area.
“They’re a good team,” Cramer said. “They’ve had really good wins up until this point. They’re beating some really good opponents so it was a good gauge for us to see where we’re at.”
Ansonia started well and hit five 3-pointers in the opening quarter – three from Alexander plus one each from Devyn Sink and Hunter Buckingham – to build a 20-19 lead.
Bethel went on a 7-0 run in the second quarter to take its first lead of the night, but Ansonia scored 9 of the final 13 points in the period to go into halftime up 31-30.
Momentum turned in the third quarter when the Bees outscored the Tigers 17-7 to take a 47-38 lead.
“The big guy (6-foot 8-inch Alex Van Haaren) was a problem on the inside for us … offensive rebounding, blocking shots,” Cramer said. “(Ryan) Rose, he’s a really good player. We were trying to wear him down, and we just couldn’t. And then (Jacob) Evans stepped up tonight and made some shots for them. Give them the credit, they earned the win.”
Behind a strong fourth quarter from Muir, who scored 12 points in the period, Ansonia was within 7 points with less than two minutes to go. But Bethel outscored Ansonia 8-0 down the stretch to seal a 70-55 victory.
Muir led Ansonia with 18 points on Saturday. Also for the Tigers, Alexander scored 9 points, Sink scored 9, Buckingham scored 6, Swabb scored 6, Andrew Rowland scored 3, Matthew Farrier scored 2, and Aydan Sanders scored 2.
Rose led Bethel with a game-high 32 points. Also for the Bees, Jacob Evans scored 20 points, Haaren scored 9, Kendal James scored 5, Jared Evans scored 2, and Korry Hamlin scored 2.
Bethel improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the CCC with Saturday’s win while Ansonia fell to 1-1 overall and 1-1 in the league.
The Tigers will return to action with another conference game on Friday against Mississinawa Valley.
“We have a lot to get better at, and we have a lot we do well,” Cramer said. “We need to defend a little better and rebound a little better, but we’ll work on it, and we’ll come back and try to get better for next week.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.