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Belmont falls to Benton in OT
Bel BBB Cutler color
BELMONT SENIOR Riely Cutler (#23) goes up strong for a shot attempt in Saturdays Six Rivers West game against Benton. Cutler finished with five points.

      BELMONT – Benton rallied from eight points down in the final six minutes of regulation to force overtime, and then outscored Belmont by an 11-8 margin in the extra session to escape with a thrilling 68-65 victory in a Six Rivers West make-up boys’ basketball game at BHS on Saturday, Jan. 28.
    The Braves were seeking their first win of the season but slipped to 0-16 overall and 0-8 in league play with the loss, while the Zephyrs improved to 2-6 in SRW play with the come-from-behind win.
    “I was impressed with their effort. They battled until end. They even came back from being down early in overtime, which is very impressive,” said Belmont head coach Mitch Austin.
    Benton (7-9) held the lead for much of the first half behind the 1-2 punch of Aaron Coffey (10 points) and Josh Redfearn (nine), who combined for 19 of the team’s 27 points in the opening half.
    Belmont trailed by as many as nine in the first half, but cut the gap to 27-24 by the intermission after closing the stanza on an 8-3 scoring run. It was the closest the Braves have been at the halftime break all season and just the third time they were within single digits of their opponent at the intermission.
    “We haven’t been in these situations this year. We had to take a lot of shots we haven’t taken this year. We’ll grow from experience. I was very impressed with these guys for the way they handled themselves,” Austin said.
    The Zephyrs were on top by six early in the second when Jake Amenda sank a 3-pointer that kicked off a 20-6 Belmont run to turn a 32-26 deficit into a 46-38 lead with six minutes to play.
    Coffey (eight) and Wyatt Bastian (11) teamed up to tally the final 19 points of regulation for the Zephyrs and tie the score at 57 all.
    A free throw by senior Riely Cutler gave the Braves a 57-54 lead with 40 seconds to go in regulation. Belmont had a chance to extend the lead late, but a turnover with five seconds remaining gave Benton the ball. Bastian drove the length of the court and sank a deep 3 at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
    Bastian and Coffey hit back-to-back treys to open OT to put the Zephyrs ahead 63-57 just a minute into the extra period. Instead of putting their heads down, the Braves went to work and eventually tied the game at 65 all on back-to-back 3s by Amenda and Jake Wedig and a free throw by Wedig with :37.2 to play.
    Bastian put Benton back into the lead by hitting one of two free throws with :29.1 to go, and Nathan Mowry added a pair of clutch foul shots– his only points of the night– with :13.3 remaining to push the lead to 68-65.
    Belmont’s desperation 3 to tie the score in the closing moments was off the mark.
    J. Wedig scored 14 of his team-high 16 points in the second period and overtime and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds to lead the Braves.
    Colin Austin and Amenda each added 10 points in the second half to finish with 15 and 13 points, respectively, for Belmont. The duo each hit three 3s for the Braves, who buried 10 of their 19 shots from beyond the arc.
    Amenda tallied six rebounds and a team-best four assists. Brady Wedig chipped in with seven points, while Cutler and Justan Ernst netted five apiece for the hosts.
    The Braves will participate in the 13th annual Six Rivers Crossover Challenge by traveling to Argyle to face the Orioles (2-12) in the seventh-place game on Friday, Feb. 3.
Benton……………… 27  30  11 – 68
Belmont……………. 24  33    8 – 65
    Benton – Nick Jansen 7, Aaron Coffey 21, Nick Wagner 4, Brooks Tiedeman 6, Nathan Mowry 2, Wyatt Bastian 19, Josh Redfearn 9. Totals – 23  17-26  68.
    Belmont – Ethan James 4, Colin Austin 15, Justan Ernst 5, Riely Cutler 5, Jake Wedig 16, Jake Amenda 13, Brady Wedig 7. Totals – 24  7-12  65.
    3-point goals– BEN 5 (Jansen 1, Coffey 1, Bastian 3), BEL 10 (James 1, Austin 3, Ernst 1, J. Wedig 1, Amenda 3, B. Wedig 1). Total fouls– BEN 15, BEL 22. Fouled out– B. Wedig. Technical foul– J. Wedig.
Belmont……………. 14    22 – 36
Highland…………… 40    27 – 67
    Belmont – Ethan James 5, Colin Austin 12, Riley Cutler 4, Jake Wedig 8, Jake Amenda 5, Brady Wedig 2. Totals – 12  8-10  36.
    Highland – S. Linscheid 15, Welsh 6, Cool 3, B. Drury 3, D. Drury 6, JR Linscheid 19, Michek 6, Miller 9. Totals – 29  5-7  67.
    3-point goals– B 4 (James 1, Austin 1, Cutler 1, Amenda 1), H 4 (S. Linscheid 1, Welsh 1, Cool 1, JR Linscheid 1). Total fouls– B 12, H 9. Fouled out– none.