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Bethel Nips Victory

ASKEWVILLE – Before the start of Tuesday’s night’s game between Bethel Academy and Victory Christian, Bethel Coach Joe Mizelle presented a plaque to Victory head coach Jim Cratty in appreciation to their storied relationship as colleagues and friends.

Coach Joe’s team then promptly came out and tried to run his friend’s team off the court.

When these two teams last met, it was during the BACA Christmas tournament. At that tournament, Victory Christian, benefiting from foul trouble to Bethel’s leading scorer Trey Denton, managed to steal a Victory on Bethel’s home court. Denton was in for the duration time around, and what a difference it made.

Mizelle’s team started the game in a 1-2-2 defense, designed to create problems for Victory point guard David Cratty who was the MVP of the aforementioned tournament.

Denton almost immediately took advantage of the new look defense and stole the ball from Cratty enroute to an uncontested lay up to start off the game’s scoring.

It was in fact the Bethel defensive scheme that proved to be the difference for most of the game, as unlike his tournament MVP performance Cratty never found his comfort zone and was not an offensive factor.

Whereas, Denton and Larry Caldwell had track practice in the first half, as they took advantage of the play of Josh Freeman, who put together one of the better all-around games this season. Freeman finished with nine assists, eight rebounds, and six steals, to go along with a single bucket, as he was the proverbial thorn in the side for the opposing team.

With Cratty being held in check early, Victory Christian turned to starting center Josh Thigpen who finished with 29 points.

At halftime Bethel held a 31-26 lead, and Denton had 17 of his team’s points. The second half began with more sprinting for Bethel as Denton and Calwell alternated on fast break lay up to get the Bethel lead to 11 points before Thigpen scored six consecutive points to get Victory back in the game.

In fact the third quarter was a battle between the Bethel guards and the Victory’s Thigpen to see who could hit the most reverse lay ups. Eventually Cratty did find his stroke and led a scoring run with about three minutes in the game to put Victory Christian ahead with a little over two minutes remaining.

The lead changed hands two more times on baskets by Bethel’s Freeman, and Victory’s Thigpen.

Bethel center Stephen Miller, who spent the entire game trying to slow down Thigpen, was fouled with 3.6 seconds left and iced two free throws to give Bethel a two point lead. Miller then stole the ball on Victory’s last attempt to push the ball up court for a game winning attempt, as Bethel held on for a 60-58 win at home.

Bethel (60): Trey Denton – 25, Larry Caldwell – 22, Stephen Miller – 11,

J. Freeman – 2, J. Perry – 1

Victory Christian (58): Josh Thigpen – 29, David Cratty – 13, C. McGronan – 11,

J. Wells – 5, J. Crouse – 4, J. Meads – 2