- Special Sections
- Public Notices
With an incredible defensive performance and timely shooting, Bronson muscled past nemesis Oak Hall Friday night to earn a spot in the district final.
The 44-40 finish came on a balanced shooting performance by Bronson and a critical shutdown of Oak Hall?s offense in the third quarter.
The blue Eagles pushed to a bare first quarter lead on scores by C.J. King and Terrance Dukes, who had four points each on Bronson's 10-point quarter. The blue Eagles picked up the attack in the second quarter, as the game-high scorer, Kelby Barber, weighed in with his first points. Dion Thomas added a step-back three and Dukes took a rebound coast to coast.
Barber and Jermey Mayes made life miserable for Oak Hall?s one-two offensive punch of Luke DiPerna and Skyler Neale, holding the normally dominant pair to 11 and 10 points on the night, respectively.
"We put our best defenders on them and said, 'Lock 'em down,' " said Bronson coach Kelly Beckham.
Bronson went to the break with a 23-19 advantage, and Dukes and Rivers embellished it with a pair of threes at the dawn of the third quarter. Barber had a putback in traffic to give the blue Eagles a 10-point lead. At least two of Bronson's third quarter points came off defensive rebounds, as the blue Eagles controlled the boards and held Oak Hall to only six points on the quarter.
"I think we did a good job on the boards," Beckham said. "Most of the time we limited them to one shot."
Oak Hall battled in the fourth quarter, as DiPerna's foul trouble was less urgent than in the early game. Bronson's King penetrated and dished to Thomas for two underneath, but Neale powered up a turnaround J to answer and keep the lead below 10.
But Mayes kicked to Rivers to again stretch the lead, and then Barber was fouled for the first time. He went to the line four times in the fourth, including one trip off a crucial steal, and made six of seven shots.
"We had the right guys shooting (free throws) at the end," said Beckham.
In the end, it did come down to the stripe, as Oak Hall clawed back with a three from Paul Martin to help out Neale and DiPerna. With Bronson up by three, King went to the line for the blue Eagles and made one of two. DiPerna answered to cut the gap to two, but with 11 seconds remaining, Barber went to the line for the third time. He made both shots, then rushed to the other end to rebound Neale's miss and hold it as time ran out.
Beckham was pleased with the work Bronson did to finish off Oak Hall.
"I think we defended them well," he said. "We made them take tough shots, we were mostly patient on offense, and we worked a lot of clock when we were ahead."
Bronson: Kelby Barber, 13; Terrance Dukes, 11; James Rivers, 10
Oak Hall: Luike Diperna, 11; Skyler Neale, 10