Clinton Central suffered a Thanksgiving hangover in losing to visiting Bethesda Christian, 64-54, on Saturday, with their coach saying they struggled after a close opening game loss to Delphi last Tuesday.
“I think we came out a little slow tonight,” Whit Keadle said. “We probably weren’t over the loss from the other night. I think our kids expected to win (against Delphi) which is a good thing and when they didn’t I think we carried that with us.
“The old saying (is) that you lose the same game twice almost,” he added. “We lost that game (tonight) because we were thinking about the previous one. We just didn’t come out ready and dug ourselves a hole and fought, but sometimes the hole’s too deep and you can’t get out.”
Central led Delphi for much of the game last week, having a nine point advantage at the half and having a chance to win in the closing seconds of a 61-59 loss.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early first quarter lead on Saturday as well, with outside shooting paving the way as it did with Delphi. Payton Moore hit two 3s and Ross Cripe one as Central led 9-6 with 4:33 left in the quarter. Bethesda Christian took its first lead on a 3 by Braden Chapman with 2:33 remaining in the quarter on their way to a 15-13 advantage after the first period.
The two teams went back and forth early in the second quarter with Moore tying the game at 23 on a drive with 2:42 left in the half before the Patriots pushed it to 28-23 when Chapman took a turnover the other way for a bucket and free throw after being fouled with 2:09 remaining and 30-25 with 1:13 left off another steal by Nehemiah Terry.
Second-chance points off offensive rebounds and turnovers leading to buckets the other way hurt the Bulldogs, especially in the first half.
“Of course we try to make the adjustments, but obviously I didn’t do a good enough job of working on boxing out,” Keadle said. “We’ve got to get back to work on that because we just didn’t keep (No.) 10 (Israel Terry) out. I don’t know how many offensive rebounds 10 had, but there were a ton.
“We don’t value the basketball enough sometimes,” he added of the turnovers. “We have to value the basketball more. It’s just not 'we’re going to throw it out there.' Every possession we have to value it because we are shooting it well.
“Every possession we get good looks almost every time. I’m happy with our ball movement other than when we get lazy a little bit with our passes.”
The turnovers weren’t as big an issue in the second half but the Bulldogs had difficulty scoring early in the third as the Patriots pushed the lead to 38-27 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Moore began aggressively driving to the basket at that point drawing several fouls in the process. He hit three free throws and a 3 in the next three minutes and Cripe scored with 40 seconds left off a steal and assist by Caleb Heide to make it 38-35. Bethesda’s AJ Martin banked in a shot close with four seconds for a Patriot 40-35 advantage.
“Payton came on in the second half for us,” Keadle said of his senior who led all scorers with 23 points. “Payton can do that all the time. I think he’s very good at getting to the rim any time he wants to.”
Central cut the lead to three on their first possession of the final quarter on a drive by Kyle Pickard but Bethesda answered back with a 3 by Austin Kelly before Cripe hit a 3 of his own off a pass from Jake Shoup to make it 43-40 with 6:51 to play.
The Patriots pushed the lead out to nine before a Shoup 3 made it 49-43 with five minutes left. Central cut it to 51-47 when Moore took a rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup with 3:44 left, but could not take advantage of several open possessions on Bethesda turnovers before the Patriots extended a possession with an offensive rebound with 2:37 left that led to an Ashtyn Paddock bucket 15 seconds later.
Moore missed two free throws on the next Central possession and Bethesda’s Israel Terry scored on a back cut off an in-bound play for a 55-47 lead with 1:35 left. Moore drained four free throws to get the Bulldogs back to 55-51at the 1:16 mark, but with Central forced to foul with time running out Bethesda hit 9 of 10 free throws to stretch the lead at the game’s end.
“Credit to them, they beat us,” Keadle said.
After Moore’s 23 points, the Bulldogs got scoring from Cripe (12), Shoup (seven), Drew Hosteter (six) and Heide, Riley Montgomery and Pickard (two each). Chapman led Bethesda with 22 points with two other Patriots in double figures.
Heide had team-highs of 11 rebounds and four assists for Central. Other stat contributions came from Moore (four rebounds), Cripe (three assists), Shoup (a rebound and three assists), Jack Akard (a rebound and an assist), Pickard (a rebound) and Riley Montgomery (a rebound).
Clinton Central fell to 0-2 with the loss, while Bethesda improved to 1-1. The Bulldogs (0-1 Hoosier Heartland Conference) next host Sheridan, which plays their first game at Clinton Prairie on Friday, in a conference game on Dec. 13.
PATRIOTS 64, BULLDOGS 54
Bethesda Christian – Totals 24 13-16 64.
Clinton Central – Moore 6 8-12 23, Cripe 5 0-1 12, Shoup 3 0-0 7, Hosteter 2 0-0 6, Heide 0 2-3 2, Montgomery 1 0-1 2, Pickard 1 0-2 2. Totals 18 10-19 54.
3-point goals: Bethesda Christian (3), Clinton Central (Moore 3, Cripe 3, Hosteter 2, Shoup 1). Total Fouls – Bethesda Christian 16, Clinton Central 17.