Bellarmine kept the flame alive in their undefeated season Wednesday night as they edged past St. Ignatius, 54-53.
Coming into the game, the Bellarmine Bells maintained an impressive 15-1 record (6-0 regular season) and were on an eight-win streak. Their matchup against the St. Ignatius Wildcats proved to be an intense one, as St. Ignatius came into the game with an identical record, but with a longer streak of 12 games. Both teams were undefeated in the same conference, but the Bells pulled through and improved their conference record to 7-0, while the Wildcats fell to 6-1.
The first quarter was one dominated by Bellarmine’s lockdown defense. They successfully applied full court pressure against their opponents, leading to a series of blocks and steals. Players set screens for each other and were unselfish with the ball. This translated to a 12-4 run early in the game, with the Bells being able to pound the paint and convert easy layups inside.
With a deficit of eight points, the Wildcats looked to build a run of their own. They cut Bellarmine’s lead to five points. Both sides continued to play stingy defense, and baskets were exchanged until the first half ended with Bellarmine leading, 29-20.
Bellarmine opened the second half with back-to-back three pointers, giving them momentum to build upon. Their ability to continuously attack the basket and get to the free-throw line allowed them to build a 14-point cushion. However, St. Ignatius inched their way back into the game by adjusting their defense to prevent easy lanes to the basket. A stout defense brought down the lead back to 9 points, with the Wildcats trailing 47-38.
The situation for the Bells took a turn for the worse in the fourth quarter. Their offense suddenly became sluggish and ball movement was inevident, yielding a measly 7 points in the last quarter of play. St. Ignatius also fell into a shooting slump, but a late quarter rally brought the score to 52-49, with 1:50 left to play.
Trailing only by three, the Wildcats took the lead with two effortless layups. This would not be enough as the Bells drew a foul and converted on two free throws with 25.2 seconds left to go. Bellarmine was able to make one good stop defensively in the last seconds of competition, and sneaked past St. Ignatius, 54-53.
Some notable performances in the game were Kendall Stubblefield ‘18’s 20 points and Jake Wojcik ‘18 and Angelo Athens ‘17, who each contributed 13 points. All three were able to convert a combined 14/17 free throws, with two critical ones coming in the fourth from Wojcik, sealing the deal for the Bells.
Bells will fight to keep the streak alive tonight at Archbishop Mitty High School at 6:30pm.