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Early run powers Bellefonte by MU

Trojans go cold early, fall in opener

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Mount Union’s Ian Brodbeck (22) goes to the rim defended by Bellefonte’s Nick Way and Ty Kroel (3) on Wednesday night in Mount Union.

MOUNT UNION– The Mount Union Trojans and coach Scott McClain have played the season abiding by the motto: “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

In Wednesday night’s 64-44 loss to Bellefonte, the Trojans showcased their belief in that motto. After a dreadful first half, Mount Union came out of the locker room ready to go and outscored the rolling Red Raiders in the final two quarters.

Bellefonte opened the game running the full-court press, which the Trojans struggled to break. A few, early turnovers helped the Red Raiders get out to a quick 9-2 lead. Bellefonte took the momentum and ran with it, scoring an absurd 24 points in the first quarter. Nick Way led the charge, knocking down a trio of three-pointers and keeping pace with the Trojans by himself.

“Early in the game, we dug ourselves a hole because we tried to play at a different pace,” McClain said. “You could see how we were overwhelmed in the first half until (we) started to settle in. I knew that it was gonna be an issue–but I didn’t want to go too hard early, because of the fatigue factor.”

Mount Union only had seven available players on Wednesday, meaning that the starting five would have to play the bulk of the minutes. With the roster torn apart due to injuries, quarantine and COVID-19 precautions, the Trojans haven’t had enough players to get full practices going, hurting their ability to fix any issues before a game.

“It kills us in practice… only having six or seven kids,” McClain said about the team’s dwindling numbers.

With the 24-9 lead, the Red Raiders turned their attention to defense, as did the Trojans. Mount Union did a great job of slowing down the relentless Bellefonte offense, but it was the Red Raiders’ defense that shined the brightest. The Trojans allowed just 12 points in the second, but Bellefonte took it a step further, limiting the Trojans to three points on zero made field goals.

Bellefonte’s Blair Eckley-Jones dominated much of the first half. He used his big frame to get down low and put up some easy layups. He also used his speed and court awareness to rack up rebounds and assists. He finished the night with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Those numbers could have been higher if it wasn’t for the selfless defense played by Mount Union’s Dayvion Wilson, who took multiple charges from the Red Raiders’ big man.

Early in the third quarter, Wilson hit the ground hard again, and the officials called Eckley-Jones for his third foul of the game.

“That’s the way he plays defense. He’s the kinda guy that’s gonna take a lot of charges,” McClain said.

Eckley-Jones was taken out of the game and sat for the rest of the third quarter, and most of the fourth. It might not be coincidental that the Trojans played their best basketball in those two quarters.

“I think we outplayed them in the second half. Once they settled down and trusted the offense, they started to look a lot better,” McClain said. “Second half, we were a little more deliberate with our offense and I think that slowing down helped our defense too.”

The Trojans offense came alive as Devin Delo scored all of his 13 points for the game in the final two quarters. Ian Brodbeck scored six of his 12 points in the second half, while Wilson added eight of his 10 points.

“In the first half, there was a lot of standing around. Nobody wanted to lead the ball. They make a pass and wanted to stand there,” McClain said. “At halftime, we emphasized that and defense.”

While McClain is not satisfied with the overall play he saw from his team, the much-improved second half showed that the Trojans are going to be able to adapt moving forward, but they still need to do the little thing correctly if they want to win some games.

“We still gotta work on some fundamental things. Defensively, we’re not in the right position,” McClain explained. “We got a little bit better at it (in the second half), but we’re still no where we need to be.”

Bellefonte 64, Mount Union 44

BELLEFONTE

Nick Way 8 0-0 20, Ty Kroell 6 0-0, 16, Blair Eckley-Jones 3 6-9 12, Alex Eberling 5 0-0 10, Gannon Bringard 1 0-0 2, Cole Cressman 1 0-0 2, Davis Corman 1 0-0 2. Totals: 25 6-9 64.

3-point goals: Way 4, Kroell 4.

Did not score: Trevor Johnson, Gavin Fravel.

MOUNT UNION

Devin Delo 5 0-0 13, Ian Brodbeck 5 2-2 12, Dayvion Wilson 5 0-0 10, Jayvien Brumbaugh 3 0-0 8, Sincere Randolph 0 1-2 1. Totals: 18 3-4 44.

3-point goals: Delo 3, Brumbaugh 2.

Did not score: Bryce Danish, Dre Williams.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

BE 24-12-12-16 64

MU 9-3-16-16 44

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