BLANCHARDVILLE — The Belmont Braves held their own for the first 18 minutes of last Tuesday’s season-opener at Pecatonica.
But A.J. Hendrickson and the Vikings turned the tide with a 14–0 run to open the second half.
Hendrickson scored 10 of his game-high 18 points after intermission to rally Pecatonica to a 60–44 non-conference victory over coach Glen Gaulke’s Braves.
“We had a real nice first half, but it started slipping away when they put a press on us,” said Gaulke, who was Belmont’s boys’ varsity head coach from 1986–1994. “We had a hard time handling Hendrickson’s length at the top of their diamond press and that led to some steals and they got three quick buckets out of that.”
Senior guard Quinn Cushman (illness) missed the game for Belmont, but Gaulke takes the blame and said he didn’t properly account for the new 18-minute halves and felt his Braves were running out of gas midway through the second half.
The WIAA opted to go to 18-minute halves this season instead to the old four eight-minute quarters, making the game four minutes longer and also taking away two stoppages of play for quarter breaks.
“We played fantastic man-to-man defense in the first half, but I think it really tired us out in the second half,” said Gaulke. “At the eight or nine-minute mark we started to show some fatigue. Without the quarter breaks we lose two timeouts right there, but that’s on me. I have to do a better job managing the bench and give the guys some more rest. The new halves is still a learning curve for me.”
Senior guard Jon Bahr, a three-year starter and first-team All-Six Rivers West performer a year ago, buried four first-half 3-pointers as Belmont jumped out to an early lead. Bahr finished with 12 points.
Senior guard Cole Johnson also hit a pair of three balls in the first half and Belmont led 28–24 at the half.
But the host Vikings regrouped at intermission.
Pec (1–0) tied the game with back-to-back baskets to open the second half, then Hendrickson drilled a three-pointer to give the Vikings a 31–28 lead.
Hendrickson scored twice more on breakaway layups and the Pec lead ballooned to 38–28.
Senior Raine Voigts, another first-team All-SRW selection last year, scored seven of his 12 points after halftime, but fellow senior Josh Logsdon made Belmont’s only other field goal in the second half, as Pec outscored the Braves 36–16 in the final 18 minutes.
Cushman returned to the Belmont starting lineup Monday and scored a game-high 15 points to lead the Braves to a dominating 66–25 non-conference victory over visiting Monticello Monday night.
Cushman scored nine of his 15 points in the first half as Belmont (1–1) raced out to a commanding 37–11 halftime lead.
Fellow seniors Lane Kamps and Cole Johnson each scored seven points in the first half. Johnson and senior forward Raine
Voigts finished with 10 points apiece. Kamps and junior Nick Willborn each scored seven.
Senior Logan Marty was the only Monticello player to make a basket in the first half, scoring 10 of his team-high 14 points before intermission.
“I was pleased how we played as a team, especially how our secondary players came in and continued to maintain the intensity to win,” said Gaulke. “It’s a good start but we have a long ways to go.”
The Braves will return to action with a third straight non-conference game against a Six Rivers East opponent when they travel to Juda on Thursday. Belmont will open Six Rivers West conference play Tuesday at home against Highland.
Pecatonica 60, Belmont 44
(from Tuesday, Nov. 24 @ Blancharville)
Belmont 28 16 — 44
Pecatonica 24 36 — 60
Belmont (0–1) — Cole Johnson 8, Tyler Enst 2, Lane Kamps 6, Jon Bahr 12, Raine Voigts 12, Josh Logsdon 4. Totals — 14 9-15 44.
Pecatonica (1–0) — Colten Schraepfer 9, Brooks Chandler 11, Kole Kent 9, A.J. Hendrickson 18, Logan Green 9, Cory Linder 3, Dalton James 2. Totals — 61.
3-point goals — B: 7 (Johnson 2, Bahr 4, Voigts 1); P: 3 (Chandler 1, Hendrickson 1, Green 1). Team fouls — B: 16, P: 14.
Belmont 66, Monticello 25
(from Monday, Nov. 30 @ Belmont)
Monticello 11 14 — 25
Belmont 37 29 — 66
Monticello (0–2) — Errthum 6, Gafner 2, Hanenberger 2, Marty 14, Price 1. Totals — 8 7-10 25.
Belmont (1–1) — Cole Johnson 10, Quinn Cushman 15, Nate Knebel 5, Lane Kamps 7, Jon Bahr 5, Jake Wedig 4, Raine Voigts 10, Nick Willborn 7, Josh Logsdon 3. Totals — 24 11-16 66.
3-point goals — M: 2 (Marty 2); B: 7 (Johnson 2, Cushman 2, Bahr 1, Voigts 1, Willborn 1). Team fouls — M: 14, B: 15.