Defense sparks NB’s win

LOYSBURG — Last year, Northern Bedford had no problems putting points on the board, but its defense still left plenty of room for improvement.

When Cullen Lloyd’s first career varsity basket beat the first quarter buzzer, NBC capped off a 29-point opening eight minutes of play that saw its full-court pressure force 11 Bellwood-Antis turnovers — leading to many of those easy points.

Just minutes into the contest, the Black Panthers put together 14 unanswered points to open a double-digit lead they wouldn’t relinquish in handling the Blue Devils, 68-39, on Tuesday night in Inter-County Conference cross-divisional action.

“I’m really proud of our guys. Last year, we had the offense and no defense,” Northern Bedford coach Randy Meck said. “We have stressed defense non-stop — trying to get them defensive-minded. I thought that the difference tonight was our pressure in being able to get traps, get in transition and get easy buckets.”

B-A’s Sean Mallon converted a pair of free throws at 6:39 to give his team a 5-4 edge.

Cadin Ebersole responded by banking in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to kickstart the 14-0 Black Panther burst. Hayden Foor canned two free throws to conclude the run and put NBC up 18-5 with 4:11 remaining in the first.

Thad Leidy was the opening catalyst for Northern as the senior scored nine of his team’s first 12 points, and used his own stifling defense to come up with three steals during the game-changing run.

When the first quarter ended, Northern Bedford was up 29-12 as the defense had picked the Blue Devils’ pockets nine times with five of them leading to points.

“Our problem right now is scoring. It’s clear tonight, it was clear last night,” Bellwood-Antis coach Pat Cassidy said. “We need a lot of guys to step up that haven’t been in roles they haven’t been in before. So, there is some growing pains with it — you’ve got to stay patient with it. It’s all there, we just have to figure how to put the pieces in the right place.”

Bellwood climbed to within 14 points on two separate occasions as Zach Mallon hit two free throws to make it 32-18, and when Sean Mallon scored to make it 34-20.

The Black Panthers closed the half on a 9-1 spurt to claim a 43-21 advantage as Leidy, who led all scorers with 22 points and five steals, converted inside.

For the first half, Northern Bedford scored 16 points off of 17 Blue Devil turnovers.

“I’m real big on body language, I’m real big on effort and I’m real big on energy — it’s very clear if you watched tonight’s game that none of those things were there,” Cassidy said. “Those are all things that we can’t control, so that’s the good news. We can control our energy, we can control our effort, we can control our confidence.”

The second half proved to be more of the same as the NBC gained a 30-point lead — good enough to kick the running clock in effect — when Caleb Diehl, who finished with 14 points and five steals, made a layup 17 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Dakota Claar made good on an and-1 chance the next time down the floor to push the lead to 66-32 — the largest of the night for Northern Bedford.

“We’re just thankful to be on the court playing,” Meck said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been on the court. I’ve got a group of kids that want to win — they’re hungry to win.”

When all was said and done, the Blue Devils had 26 turnovers to 16 by Northern Bedford, which had 17 totals steals on the evening.

Sean Mallon’s 13 points were high for Bellwood-Antis, which fell to 0-2.

BELLWOOD-ANTIS (39): Gibbons 3 0-3 6, S. Mallon 5 2-2 13, Z. Mallon 2 3-6 7, Pellegrino 2 3-4 7, Morris 0 1-2 1, Beiswenger 0 0-0 0, D. Miller 2 1-3 5, Sweigert 0 0-0 0, Noel 0 0-0 0, Mercer 0 0-0 0, Wagner 0 0-0 0, Buss 0 0-0 0, Neyman 0 0-0 0. Totals –14 10-20 39.

NORTHERN BEDFORD (68): Leidy 10 0-0 22, Ebersole 3 0-0 8, Diehl 6 1-3 14, Reyan 0 0-0 0, Claar 4 1-1 9, Foor 2 3-3 7, Clouse 2 0-0 4, Lloyd 2 0-0 4, Yeatts 1 0-0 2, Martin 0 0-0 0, Detterline 1 0-0 2, Gates 0 0-0 0, Walter 0 0-0 0, Cherry 0 0-0 0, Fernandez 0 0-0 0. Totals — 29 5-7 68.


Bellwood-Antis 12 9 11 7 — 39

Northern Bedford 29 14 18 7 — 68

3-point field goals: Bellwood-Antis 1 (S. Mallon); Northern Bedford 5 (Leidy 2, Ebersole 2, Diehl).

Records: Bellwood-Antis (0-2); Northern Bedford (1-0).

JV: Northern Bedford won 51-27. High scorers — Cullen Lloyd, NB, 12; Kyler Sweigert, BA, 13.


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