BETHEL – In one of those games when things seemingly come together, the Bethel Wildcats knocked off the Chandler Lions, 61-44, for third place in the First United Bank Basketball Classic Saturday night at the B.E. Cantrell Fieldhouse.
“Defense, shooting and not turning the ball over...we haven't put very many games like that together,” said Bethel head coach Eric Litherland. “We shot the ball well. We knew they would zone up on us. It was definitely our best all-around game.”
The Wildcats, who improved to 3-2 on the season, scored the first nine points of the game in creating a 17-10 lead after one quarter. Bethel then doubled up Chandler with a 26-13 second quarter to build a 20-point advantage, 43-23, at the half.
John Gordon scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds and Jesse Tucker collected 12 points and six boards for Bethel which shot 42% from the floor overall. However, the second quarter featured an 10-of-14 field-goal shooting effort which allowed the Wildcats to take control.
Jaylon Gordon added eight points and six rebounds and Jace Stewart, in a reserve role, also finished with eight points while sinking a pair of 3-point shots in that second period.
Tucker converted all four of his field-goal tries in the second to help fuel Bethel's efforts in pulling away.
Starter Devin Acklin sank two 3-point shots in finishing with six points for the Wildcats and DJ Whitten, off the bench, hit one trey in tallying six points.
Chandler's 6-foot, 4-inch center Dylan Mahan recorded a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Dalton Alsip followed with 10 points, including a pair of 3-point shots. Caedon Parris contributed six points and three steals for the Lions.
Despite Mahan's performance, Litherland was pleased with Bethel showing some containment on Mahan, who had a 30-point, 19-rebound performance in Chandler's opening-round win on Thursday.
“Our guys did a good job fronting him,” Litherland said. “Defensively, we never gave them too many clean looks.”
A layup off a steal by Jaylon Gordon, an Acklin 3-pointer, a John Gordon tip-in and a Drae Wood dunk off a Jaylon Gordon steal enabled the Wildcats to build that early 9-0 lead. The Lions didn't get their first bucket until the 3:21 mark off a Mahan basket.
Leading 21-12, Bethel put together another run – this time an 11-0 spurt – as John Gordon nailed two free shots. Stewart canned a trey, Tucker scored off a follow-shot and Stewart buried another 3-pointer to make it 31-12 with 2:54 to go before halftime.
The Wildcats were 17-of-30 from the floor through the first two quarters.
For Chandler, Mahan was 6-of-11 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line.
CHANDLER 40, BYNG 36 (Girls' Third Place)
Leah Brannon tossed in 14 points and snatched seven rebounds as the Chandler Lady Lions held on for the four-point victory over the Byng Lady Pirates for third place in First United Bank Classic.
Morgan Fowble added eight points and five rebounds for the Lady Lions. Piper Hixon tossed in six points off a pair of 3-point jumpers and Selah Bryan led the winners on the boards with 11 to go with five points in a reserve role. Kelsey Williams also chipped in five points.
Kennedy Large recorded a double-double in a losing effort for Byng as she tallied 10 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to go with a team-high four steals. Britney Brooks-Teel followed with eight points to go with seven boards (five on the offensive end) and three steals. Trenity Miller tacked on seven points, including one of her team's only two treys.
Chandler plays at Seminole Tuesday night.