By Kenny Varner
BELLEFONTE – It was a tale of two halves Friday night when the Bellefonte boys basketball team hosted Juniata in a non-league match up.
The Indians outscored the Red Raiders in the first half 21-18.
However, Bellefonte broke out posting a 19-point third quarter led to a Red Raider 49-37 victory.
Cole Crissman had a strong night from beyond the 3-point line, posting five triples en route to a 24-point/ 10-rebound double-double to lead the Red Raiders to the victory.
“I thought Cole Crissman was huge. I told him to let the game come to him. He didn’t force things inside,” said Bellefonte coach Rick Hall. “We ran an offense where he was coming off a down screen. I initially told him not to shoot it and let’s move the ball. I called that one time out and told him when your open shoot it. He made those threes and it kind of broke the game open.”
Teammate Derek Cox finished with 12 points after going a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe.
Bellefonte finished with eight triples while Juniata also let it fly from beyond the arc, posting eight as well.
Juniata got a strong offensive effort from Caleb Smith who finished with a team-high 16 points.
Jasper Shepps and Bryce Rush both finished with 7-point efforts.
Going into the third, the Indians held a hard-fought 21-18 advantage.
Juniata was able to post the first point of the half as Rush hit 1-of-2 from the line.
But the Red Raiders got the crowd into it when Derek Cox drove in the lane for the hoop and the foul. Cox proceeded to complete the old fashioned three point play, cutting the Juniata lead to one.
Bellefonte took the lead for only the second time in the game as the Red Raiders found a wide open Crissman standing beyond the 3-point line as he proceeded to hit nothing but net, 24-22.
After forcing a turnover on the next Juniata possession, the Red Raiders went back to Crissman again from beyond the 3-point line, hitting his second consecutive triple, extending the Bellefonte lead to 27-22.
Back battled Juniata when Smith hit 2-of-2 from the foul line cutting it to 27-24.
Bellefonte started to heat up while it’s defense tightened up, posting a 10-0 run.
In that run, Crissman led the way with five in the run.
Smith ended the Bellefonte run as he hit a late third quarter triple, cutting it to a 10-point Bellefonte advantage as the fourth quarter got under way.
The Indians refused to go away without a fight.
As the quarter got underway, Juniata had a run of its own, posting an 8-2 run. Smith had two consecutive clutch triples, cutting down the lead to 39-35.
It would be just a bucket lead when Wyatt Stoner hit a strong bucket in the lane.
But Crissman put the game out of reach after posting two more consecutive triples to hold off the Indians en route to the 49-37 victory.
In the JV contest, Bellefonte won 55-17.