Blue Jackets jolt Tigers

NEW RIEGEL – It isn’t often one can put a finger on the turning point in a 33-point loss.

But it was clear Seneca East’s Joe Bedingfield would have liked to have had the last 90-plus seconds of the first half against New Riegel back for another try here Thursday night.

The Blue Jackets scored the last 10 points of the half and benefited especially from five Tiger turnovers in the final 1:34 on the way to a 79-46 Midland Athletic League win.

“We have to come out ready to go every game,” New Riegel coach Todd Aichholz said after his club improved to 15-2 overall and 7-1 in the league. The Blue Jackets remain one game behind MAL leader Old Fort, which whipped Hopewell-Loudon 73-37 Thursday to maintain an edge.

“Every game is a championship game for us if we want to stay in the league race,” he said. “We can’t afford any more losses.”

The Tigers (9-6, 4-4) had them on the run for much of the first half. Ethan Caudill had three baskets, including a 3-pointer and Ben Hahler added a couple inside hoops. Seneca East opened an 11-6 lead that narrowed to 15-13 by the end of the first quarter.

Caudill, who led the Tigers with 15 points, had five more in the first five minutes of the second period although his club fell back a little. His baseline drive for two pulled Seneca East to within 26-24.

Nick Wank’s foul shot and Brandyn Reinhart’s inside basket gave the Blue Jackets a five-point edge, and then came clincher burst.

Wank came up with a steal and zipped a pass for an Andrew Hohman basket. Then Korey Williams, who scored 10 in the first half, stole a pass and fed Reinhart.

The Tigers had three more turnovers to close the half, the last one leading to Wank’s 3-pointer for a 36-24 halftime lead.

“It was a huge run,” Bedingfield said. “We’re trying to figure out the point guard spot. We have to figure out if somebody wants to step up and be our point guard.

“We knew New Riegel was capable of going off in spurts like that if you let them,” he said. “We came out and played hard, but fell into a little rut. To go down 12 at the half like that, that took a little gas out of us.”

New Riegel led by as many as 20 and as few as 12 before settling for a 54-39 lead heading into the fourth period. The Blue Jackets then went on a 15-3 run to seal it.

Reinhart, the league’s leading scorer at 23 points per game, was limited to six in the first half but he finished with 18. Williams hit four 3-pointers and matched Reinhart at 18. The Blue Jackets also got 11 from Wank, 10 from Josh Burns and six each from Joshua Nye, Hohman and Jake Dryfuse.

“Our guards really set the tone for us tonight,” Aichholz said. “Korey shot the ball really well and Andrew did a great job of attack when he had the opportunity, and I thought Nick had a whale of a game. That was the best he’s played all season.

“Josh Burns, he has that capability to score like he did,” he said. “Brandyn’s had the flu all week and you could tell he was just a little bit out of it tonight. But I still thought he had a pretty good game.”

New Riegel shot 60 percent from the field, hitting 29-of-48 overall. The Jackets went 13-for-19 in the second half.

“We wanted to come in and put a little pressure on them, make them a little tight because they are still in the league race,” Bedingfield said. “But their kids stepped up. The Reinhart kid came up big in the second half and they hit some shots from the outside. It was kind of pick your poison out there.”

Nate Phillips backed Caudill with 13 points for the Tigers. But from there, the scoring dropped down to six points by Hahler.