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Bethel boys move to 2-0 on season with 70-56 win over Harrah

Brian Johnson
Bethel's John Gordon (12) steals a Harrah pass as teammate D.J. Whitten (left) looks on during action Monday night at the B.E. Cantrell Fieldhouse.

BETHEL ACRES – Jesse Tucker's double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds spurred the host Bethel Wildcats to a 2-0 start on the season Monday night at the B.E. Cantrell Fieldhouse.

Gage Porter also tossed in 16 points and John Gordon added 14 as Bethel upended the Harrah Panthers, 70-56, in a North Canadian River Conference clash.

“We are glad to have played our first two games at home and it's good to get two conference wins,” said Bethel head coach Eric Litherland, whose Wildcats beat Tecumseh to open the season last Friday. “We have been fortunate with the limited (practice) time. We've been fighting for practice time (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) like everyone else.”

Tucker was 6-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. Porter struggled from the field, but nailed 7-of-8 free shots and registered a pair of steals. Gordon hit 6-of-9 field-goal attempts to go with six boards and two steals.

The Wildcats shot 43.1% from the floor while the Panthers fared a little better at 46%.

However, Bethel did convert two more field goals (25-23), canned 16-of-18 free shots (88.9%), held a 36-31 rebounding advantage and committed nine less turnovers (19-10). Harrah also struggled from the foul line at 35% (7-of-20).

Starter D.J. Whitten, behind 4-of-8 shooting and one 3-point make, supplied nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and recorded three steals while Bray Bussell tossed in eight points on 3-of-6 shooting while knocking down both of his free throws.

“D.J. Scored some key baskets in the second quarter (six points) and Gage did a good job. Tucker played solid. He's a great athlete,” Litherland said.

Key runs to close the first, third and fourth quarters helped the Wildcats keep Harrah at bay.

In the first, Bethel went on a 12-4 spurt in the final two minutes as Bussell scored half of those points off two field goals and a pair of free shots. Tucker hit a jump-hook and drew a foul to complete an old-fashioned 3-point play and Jace Stewart buried a trey as the Wildcats led 22-12 after one quarter.

After the Panthers rallied to trim the deficit to 44-38 late in the third, Bethel went on an 8-4 run in the final 3:43, behind a bucket each from Gordon, Tucker and Bussell along with two free shots from Porter as the Wildcats pushed their lead back to 10 points, 52-42, through three quarters.

Harrah pulled within nine in the fourth, but Bethel closed the contest with a 9-4 run through the final 2:38 with Porter scoring seven of those points and Whitten hitting a short-range basket.

Garrett Revene paced the Panthers with a game-high 25 points to go with nine rebounds. Gage Revene followed with 15 points and nine boards and Kade Jackson tacked on nine points.

The Wildcats' game at Sulphur Tuesday night was postponed due to COVID-19 related issues at Sulphur. Bethel will host the First United Bank Classic, beginning Thursday. The Wildcats will take on Chandler at 8:15 p.m. Other first-round boys games include McLoud against Byng at 10:30 a.m.; Prague versus Bridge Creek at 1:45 p.m. and Tecumseh opposite Perkins-Tryon at 5 p.m.