Bethel boys claim state title

Published 2:52 pm Monday, March 5, 2012

LUMBERTON – The Eagles of Bethel Christian Academy flew high here as they completed a perfect season within the North Carolina Christian Athletic Association and claimed the state title with a 61-42 victory over Gramercy Christian School.

Kyle Freeman’s 11 points and Shane Tripp’s six points propelled Bethel to a 17-11 first quarter lead. Cody O’Neal led Gramercy with seven first quarter points.

Arjun Patel’s second three-pointer in the second quarter, gave Gramercy its only lead of the game at 22-21 with 5:20 to play before halftime.

Bethel responded with an 8-0 spurt to end the first half up seven (29-22).

Tripp scored the first nine points of the second half to extend Bethel’s lead to 38-22. O’Neal then scored Gramercy’s only points in the third quarter with a trey which came with 3:36 to play in the third.

Bethel’s defense then held Gramercy to just three points in a 13-minute span and closed the third quarter up 48-25.

Gramercy outscored Bethel 17-13 in the final quarter to end the contest with the Eagles scoring the 61-42 victory.

Braxton Underwood garnered nine of his 11 points during the final quarter.

Tripp led all scorers with 24 points while Freeman and Daniel Feher had double digits as well with 19 and 10 points respectively. Adam Fairless chipped in four points and Trey Hoggard added two.

Gramercy was led by O’Neal with 13 while Underwood had 11, Matt Saygar 19 and Patel eight.

Feher pulled down 21 rebounds while Hoggard had 14. Tripp contributed six assists and Freeman had five assists and three steals.

Freeman was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament while Feher and Tripp were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Also, at the end of the state championship tournament, Tripp and Freeman were named to the All-State First Team.  Tripp received 67 of 70 possible points, the highest total for any member of the All-State Team.

“It’s always good to win,” Eagles’ basketball boss Tommy Tripp said. “We had already played them twice in the regular season and both were close games. We had to pick up the defensive intensity and I think the guys were able to do that.”

Tripp said he was pleased for the young men on his team and his seniors in particular.

“The guys went in with a lot of determination,” he said. “They didn’t want to just end up undefeated in the regular season, they wanted to be undefeated altogether in the conference. They went in with a purpose and played well.

“As for the seniors, I think one of them said it best,” Tripp said. “He said we started this four years ago and it culminated this week. I’m glad for them. It’s something they can cherish.”

Tripp said he was also pleased to earn his first state title after more than 15 years as a basketball coach.

“It’s always rewarding to win any kind of championship,” he said. “It’s very satisfying to know the hours you put in as a coach are paid with the dividends of a state championship. It is a great group of young men who worked hard and I’m pleased for them.”

Bethel will now carry its 24-6 overall record to a national tournament in Dayton, Tennessee which will be played March 6-10.