Bethel answers call
ASKEWVILLE – Joe Mizelle decided to test his team.
The veteran Bethel Christian Academy varsity boys’basketball coach wanted to see just how good his club could be,so he scheduled the school’s annual tip-off tournament loaded with quality competition.
He found out his team could step up their play when the Eagles defeated both Williamsburg Christian and Tabernacle Christian to win the championship.
“We played two top-quality opponents,” Mizelle said afterwards. “I wish I had four more All-Tournament trophies to give out. All of the boys played so well.”
The Eagles edged Williamsburg 65-64 in the opening round of the tournament on Friday and then held off Tabernacle 72-60 in the finals.
“Friday night I thought we played the best game we have all season,” Mizelle said. “We played well again today. We started off with a pair of losses and have now won four straight, so maybe we’re getting it turned around.”
Bethel trailed 20-19 in the second quarter of the championship game, but rolled off 18 of the next 24 points to take a comfortable 37-26 lead at the intermission.
Josh Freeman, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, got the spurt started with a hoop. That was followed quickly by a Michael Cseko three-pointer that lifted Bethel to a 24-20 lead.
After a Jairus Hill hoop for the Patriots, BCA senior Stephen Miller scored and was followed again by a Cseko hoop.
Leading 29-24 after a pair of free throws by Tabernacle’s Dave Birch, Freeman scored six of the next eight points and Cseko added a hoop to establish the halftime margin.
The third quarter started well for the Eagles with Cseko hitting a triple and Freeman scoring back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 44-26.
Tabernacle rallied, however, scoring the next 11 points to get to within 44-37.
Hill started the spurt and Zach Scott led it with three points.
Miller stopped the surge with a hoop, but Scott scored on consecutive trips down court to trim the deficit to 46-41.
Cseko sandwiched a pair of hoops around a Freeman score to help Bethel push their lead back to double figures (52-41), but a Jared Mays three-pointer for Tabernacle made it 52-44 at the end of three quarters.
The teams exchanged short runs through the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, leaving Bethel still ahead by eight (60-52).
The Eagles then went on a 7-0 run thanks to a pair of Miller hoops, a Cseko bucket and a Freeman free throw, claiming a 67-52 advantage.
From there, they cruised to the final margin of victory.
In the first quarter, the battle was a nip-and-tuck affair with Bethel holding a 17-16 lead at the end of the period.
During the course of the game, the Eagles put on a passing clinic, moving the ball well on both ends of the court.
“We’ve been working on passing in practice,” Mizelle said. “The press had killed us in the past, so we worked on it in practice.”
After the tournament, Freeman was named MVP and Miller was named to the All-Tournament team. Freeman had 34 points and 14 rebounds during the tourney while Miller had 34 points and 13 rebounds.
Cseko and Jim Perry also had excellent games during the tournament, which Mizelle pointed out. Cseko scored 48 points during the tournament and Perry had 11 rebounds and four assists.
“Michael Cseko had an excellent tournament and Jim Perry played well too,” Mizelle said. “We played good team ball. I couldn’t ask for better.”
The Eagles (4-2) will be back in action Tuesday when they travel to Albemarle School and will be on the road Friday at Ruth’s Chapel as well.
Bethel (72): Michael Cseko n 28, Josh Freeman n 21, Stephen Miller n 17, Joshua Caldwell n 6
Tabernacle (60): Jairus Hill n 16, Zach Scott n 13, Josh May n 9, Dave Birch n 9, Andrew McGary n 5, Jared Mays n 4, Clarence Fezelle – 4