ZANESVILLE – A double-digit halftime lead figured to be plenty for sharp-shooting Bloom-Carroll on Saturday night.
It was, but not by much.
The Bulldogs scored 17 straight points to start the second quarter, building an 18-point second-quarter lead on a young Zanesville team returning just one varsity player.
An 18-point second half from junior KeShawn Underwood, coupled with shaky play from the Bulldogs down the stretch, saw the lead shrink to two points with 21 seconds left. But junior Gavin Brown sank two free throws, and the Bulldogs held on for a 54-50 win at Winland Memorial Gymnasium.
Bloom-Carroll led 48-35 after Grant Dozer’s 3 with 6:00 left and still maintained a 52-41 advantage after Dozer scored down low three minutes later. Rather than protect the lead and chew up clock, however, the Bulldogs kept attacking.
It almost came back to bite them.
They sandwiched a pair of missed threes around a turnover, which allowed the Blue Devils to score nine straight points after Anthony Williams’ putback in transition with 32.1 seconds left. Brown then hit calmly hit both ends of a 1-and-1, and the Blue Devils were unable to get a good look the rest of the way.
Longtime B-C coach Tom Petty, familiar with the Blue Devil program under coach Scott Aronhalt, knew the Blue Devils weren’t going to roll over.
“I thought all over we played very well, except down the stretch with shot selection,” Petty said. “We want to be aggressive, but some of those shots we took weren’t very good. Those are things we can work on.”
The 6-3 Underwood, the only player back from last season, was haunted by foul trouble for the second straight game. He picked up his third foul on a charging call just before halftime, part of a nightmare second quarter for Zanesville that saw it miss eight straight shots and commit a pair of turnovers before Underwood’s jumper with 1:20 left.
Meanwhile, Brown and Jared Laski, both juniors, combined for 5-of-6 shooting on 3s in the second quarter as Bloom-Carroll shot 52 percent in the first half with only three turnovers.
Underwood came back with 10 in the third quarter, pulling Zanesville within 45-33, and Zanesville closed the game on a 15-6 run. But Aronhalt lamented his team’s mental mistakes, especially in the first half.
He said his team needs more defensive intensity early in games, especially against good shooting teams.
“We have a lot of issues defensively with guys not being being where they are supposed to be, but sometimes we don’t have a chance to guard somebody because offensively we’ve been so poor,” Aronhalt said. “Until we put (Underwood) at the (point), we can’t get the ball where we want and execute anything.”
Brown (20 points), Dozer (14) and Laski (12) combined for 46 points on 9-of-17 shooting on 3s. Laski has nine 3s in his last two games.
“When we shoot it, we’re a pretty good team,” Petty said. “Sometimes we’ll watch film and be like ‘man, we really didn’t play very well.’ Then you have games where you don’t think you play well, but you shoot it well. When you shoot it well, it hides a lot of stuff.”
Zanesville was only 4-of-16 on 3s, but made 10 of 15 free throws and held a commanding 29-19 edge on the glass. Underwood grabbed 10, despite missing substantial time. He also had three of the team’s six assists.
“He’s got to quit getting the offensive fouls,” Aronhalt said. “He needs to hit the pull-up. Like we’ve told him, a lot of guys have made a living here hitting the pull-up. He keeps trying to get closer and most of the time they’re going to call it.”
Bloom-Carroll won the reserve game, 42-40, in overtime behind 14 points from Micah Thieret and 12 from Adam Meadows. Cobe Curry’s 16 counters paced the Blue Imps.
Bloom-Carroll 11-19-15-9 — 54
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