Bellevue gellin’ against Tornadoes

Jalen Santoro and the Bellevue Redmen basketball team had a performance against Columbian that Santoro referred to as gellin’.

“We played real good as a team, we’re all starting to gel right now and it’s the perfect time to start gellin’,” Santoro said.

This all happened after a 10-point Bellevue halftime lead slowly diminished until Columbian evened things up at 38 with 1:26 left in the third. Bellevue scored eight points right after that to go up 46-38 heading into the fourth quarter. The Tornadoes never gained the lead again and didn’t even score until 5:13 remained in the final period. Bellevue cruised from there in a 60-47 victory.

Bellevue coach Mike Raifsnider said it was a critical component in the game’s result.

“I thought our kids kept their composure, hung in there and just did a nice job answering the bell when we needed to,” he said. “I was just proud of the kids for withstanding the run there. That was the key to the outcome of the game because I think that kind of broke their back a little bit when we scored those eight points.”

He also mentioned how far his team’s mentality has come in just eight short weeks.

“I think early in the year we probably would have crumbled in that situation and we’ve grown so much as a team that we handled that situation in a mature way. They just had to execute better,” Raifsnider said.

The run didn’t seem to phase Santoro either, who ended with 26 points and six rebounds.

“Coach told us they were going to make a run and we knew they were going to make a run; every team makes a run in the second half and we just had to withstand it and keep doing what we were doing and we would get the lead back,” he said.

The last time both teams met on Jan. 18, the Redmen eked out a 64-62 double-overtime victory.

This time it wasn’t quite as close.

Santoro scored 10 points in the first quarter before ending at the half with 18. There was even a time when he alone had 15 and the Redmen 20.

Bellevue (9-7, 2-5 Northern Ohio League) eventually went into the half up 31-21.

The second half of the game started off slow for both teams, but Columbian started a run after being down 13 at one point. By the 3:45 mark, Bryce Lonsway netted a 3 to bring the Tornadoes within five. Columbian continued to chip away at Bellevue’s lead but after a three-point play from Santoro, Columbian couldn’t respond.

“Our kids did a great job battling back tonight and there were a couple of different times we were down 10. In the first half, had it to four, had it to six, went back to 10, and finally the third quarter we got it tied and just had some mental breakdowns,” Columbian coach Bill Beaston said.

Also holding Columbian’s biggest players, Derek Dryfuse and Cody Daniel, to six and nine points, respectively, helped.

“The other huge factor is the two post players Dryfuse and Daniel; the first time we played them, each scored 14 points against us and tonight they had six and nine. We had a major emphasis on trying to shut those guys down, so I thought our post defense on those two guys was outstanding too,” Raifsnider said.

Even though the outcome against Bellevue was the same as the previous match-up, Beaston continues to see progress.

“Our growth, we’ve come a long way. We still have a long way to go and we know that. That’s what I like about these kids, they work really hard whether its in practice or in games and they show up ready to learn and get better and we continue to make strides,” he said. “We’re close. When we start playing four full quarters I think we’re going to be where we need to be.”

Bryce Lonsway led Columbian (5-11, 1-6) with 17 points. No other Tornado registered double digits.