BETHEL – Bethel's season came to a halt at home Saturday afternoon in the Class 4A Area 4 regional tournament at Bethel with a 59-39 loss to Southeast in a consolation semifinal game.
The Wildcats stuck with it until a 19-2 run in the fourth capped on a 3-pointer by Brandon Anifowose left Bethel trailing 59-36 late and unable to recover.
The loss was disappointing for the team, but coach Bryan Jennings said that the young squad made up primarily of juniors and sophomores showed big improvements over previous seasons.
“We won 10 games combined over the last two years and we won 13 this year, so I thought overall that it was a stepping stone for future success, I hope,” Jennings said. “With the young kids we have, not just here in our high school program but there in our junior high program, I do think that the program is getting on more solid ground.”
The Spartans held a two point lead after the first half but started the third quarter with eight unanswered highlighted on two treys from Anifowose to go ahead 32-22 with one minute elapsed in the second half.
The teams traded points and a bucket by Jaylon Gordon and triple from Devin Acklin made it a 40-34 game going into the third.
Bethel had a couple of slight advantages early on but gave up their last lead of the game midway through the second quarter.
The game was indicative of the up and down season that the Wildcats had this year.
“We've got to be more consistent,” Jennings said. “We were so good at times and we were so bad at times and I told them that we were like a heart monitor sometimes, up and down and we just never got any consistency it seemed like.”
The Spartans landed nine 3-pointers against Bethel. Anifowose had five and finished with 14 points to lead all scorers. J'Lynn Counter, Chris Johnson and Dionte Allen each put in nine, Marcus Hines had eight and Keanta Freeman finished with seven.
Acklin led Bethel in scoring with 10 points and had three 3-pointers and Anthony Franklin and Gordon had seven points apiece. Ben Pfeiff had six and Colin Meiler chipped in three.
The Wildcats end the season with a record of 13-13. They will graduate two senior starters in Pfeiff and Meiler.
Jennings said that the seniors did a good job of trying to lead the team and will be missed, particularly Pfeiff's game in the post.
“We don't really have a post presence like him right now, but we've got a lot of good guards and forward-type kids that I think will be good players,” he said.