WINTERSVILLE - Indian Creek used its patented ball- pressure, contest-every-shot defensive to build an early lead in Tuesday's Buckeye 8 clash with Bellaire.
The Redskins then put the home victory on ice with a fourth quarter clinic from the charity stripe.
Joe Dunlevy's crew swished 17 of 25 free throws down the stretch (senior Johnny Haught was a perfect eight for eight) to post a 61-54 victory. Creek improves to 2-1 while the Big Reds fAll to 1-2.
TO THE HOLE — Indian Creek senior Andrew Anderson goes to the basket against Bellaire’s Hunter Westlake during Tuesday’s 61-54 victory by the Redskins in Wintersville.
-- Mike Mathison
"I said in the preseason the biggest asset of this team is they can shoot the ball," Dunlevy said. "If they can shoot, they can make free throws. After not having a real good first half (the Redskins were just four for eight from the stripe during the initial 16 minutes), we were able to stick our free throws down the stretch."
Creek took the lead for good midway through the opening stanza when Jonathan Woodbury laid one in following a steal to make it 5-4. The Redskins, who nailed six of nine field goal tries, held a 13-9 lead after one. Bellaire's Michael Neal beat the buzzer with a half-court triple to put the visitors close.
Blake Roar turned a steal into points early in the second to make it 17-9 Creek. Aaron Foldi was fouled after he swiped the ball from Bellaire. He went one for two, giving the Redskins a 10-point advantage at 22-12. Creek held a 26-16 lead at the half.
Bellaire committed 11 turnovers during the first two periods and hit just seven of 23 attempts from the floor.
"We could never make them feel uncomfortable," Bellaire's J.R. Battista stated. "They were up six but it was more like 10. That is a credit to them. They are much more physical than us on defense. They managed to slow some of our guys down.
"Indian Creek always plays good defense. They just got us out of our flow. To our credit, we did do a better job in the second half."
The Big Reds, thanks to a 7-0 run, cut the deficit to three (34-31) heading into the final stanza. Two-pointers by Kenny Hess and Tyler Ramsay along with another Neal buzzer beater (this one came on a half hook from just inside the midcourt line) sparked the Bellaire run.
Another Neal triple made it 39-37 Creek early in the fourth. After that, however, the Redskins went to work at the line to seal the deal. In total, there were 41 foul shots attempted during the final frame.
"After they built that lead, there were a couple of times when we got them to throw it to us, but didn't convert," Battista added. "We made a run but They made a lot of foul shots."
Andrew Anderson led the Creek scoring parade with 15 (he was five of six from the stripe during the decisive fourth quarter stretch). Roar finished with 14 and Haught 10. Foldi and Woodbury both had nine.
"All the kids played well and played hard, but I thought Blake stepped up and was a leader for us," Dunlevy commented. "He's had a different kind of role the last few years. He got us the lead early and played a key role late."
Roar scored five of his points during the opening quarter and seven in the fourth.
"He was like a general out there," his coach continued. "He always plays great defense but I thought he played fabulous on both ends tonight. He is the quarterback, the leader out there."
Creek did commit 19 turnovers and Dunlevy knows his team must improve in that area.
"I thought we played real good defense for as many possessions as there were in the game," he said. "We work on ball handling and defense. The sooner our offense comes around, the better we are going to be.
"We still have that bug-a-boo with turnovers. It was an issue Friday night and it was an issue again tonight. We'll work on it tomorrow."
Bellaire's Neal took game scoring honors with 24. Ramsay contributed 12. The Big Reds host Martins Ferry Friday.
Creek visits Union Local Friday and Brooke Saturday.
Indian Creek 61, Bellaire 54
Bellaire 9 7 15 23 - 54
Indian Creek 13 13 8 27 - 61
BELLAIRE (1-2): Steele 1 5-6 8; Ramsay 5 2-3 12; Kimbro 1 0-0 2; Callarik 0 0-0 0; Westlake 0 0-0 0; Back 0 0-0 0; Neal 7 5-8 24; Hess 3 2-3 8. TOTALS: 17 14-21 54. 3-pointers: Neal 5, Steele. Rebounds 25 (Ramsay, Neal, Hess 6); Turnovers 18.
INDIAN CREEK (2-1): Foldi 3 3-4 9; Roar 6 2-5 14; Haught 1 8-10 10; Woodbury 4 1-5 9; Huynh 0 2-4 2; Anderson 4 7-9 15; Wade 0 0-0 0; Coppa 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19 23-37 61. 3-pointers: none. Rebounds: 26 (Anderson 7); Turnovers: 19.