The Bethel basketball squads were facing elimination Friday night, and each bounced back with big wins. The Lady Wildcats downed Madill 44-27 before the Wildcats held on for a 47-45 win over the Byng Pirates. The two teams will play Saturday afternoon for a chance at entering the Class 4A Area Tournament next weekend.
The Wildcats jumped on Byng early and often, building a 16-8 first quarter lead then expanding it to 28-15 at the end of the half. The Wildcats were scorching hot from the three-point line, hitting five bombs in the half, four of which came in the first quarter. Jaylon Gordon and Ryan Depuy each hit two and Parker Hall hit the other.
Things got really tight in the second half, and with 2:16 left in the third, Byng cut the deficit to 31-30 on a Collin O’Grady jumper.
Bethel re-loaded and went on an eight-point run to end the quarter, and Devin Acklin was right in the middle of it. He hit a trey at the 1:23 mark, then followed that up with an old fashioned three-point play at the 1:09 mark. Drae Wood completed the run with a bucket with :02, giving the Wildcats a 39-30 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Once again, Byng came out swinging. The Pirates cut the margin to 44-43 on two Tyler walker free throws with 1:54 left. The two teams failed to score in the next minute until Jylon Gordon found himself wide open under the basket on an inbounds play. Gordon hit the layup to give Bethel the 46-43 lead with :36 left. That proved to be just enough to hang on. A Nolan Feazle put back for Byng cut the lead to 46-45 with :21 left. It looked even brighter for Byng when Gordon missed a front end of a one and one for Bethel with :13 ticks left. The Pirates’ next possession ended on an errant pass, and Acklin then hit a free throw to get the Bethel count up to 47-45.
Byng had one last gasp, but a desperation three-pointer from the half court line bounced off of the backboard.
“We made some shots tonight,” said Bethel head coach Eric Litherland. “We needed every one of them.”
Wood led Bethel in scoring with 13. Gordon and Depuy each netted eight.
Bethel will now face off against Daniel Webster to try to gain entry into the area playoffs.
The Lady Wildcats were able to breath much easier in their clash with the Madill Lady Wildcats. They shut out Madill in the first quarter, taking an 8-0 first quarter lead. They maintained it in the second quarter, taking a 24-13 advantage into the break. Kelsie Wood and Kirsten Winters paced the Lady Wildcats with 11 and eight first-half points. Winters hit two treys in the half.
Bethel led 31-22 after three quarters before pulling away in the fourth. Bethel hit 5-of-7 free throws in the final two minutes of play to earn the win.
Wood finished with a game-high 19 points and Winters added 10.
Kristen Chapa paced Madill with 17.
Bethel will face their second elimination game Saturday at 1:30 p.m. They will face the Tuttle Lady Tigers.
Both Bethel games will be played at Bethel High School.