Columbian wins in Bellevue

Isiah Moore has never seen the film “Chinatown.”

So he probably wouldn’t connect his coach, Columbian’s Bill Beaston, to Jack Nicholson’s J.J. Gittes, the character who is told when things aren’t resolved correctly at the end of the movie, “forget it, it’s Chinatown.”

And had a few things been different, had the Tornadoes not held off a furious late rally by the Redmen to win 56-53, Beaston might have been given a similar message.

It is Bellevue, after all.

But instead of receiving a message, Beaston delivered one.

“Coach just told us to man up and go out there and do what he tells us to do,” Moore said. “Get the ball and score, get the W, go back home.”

Bellevue and Columbian have engaged in some odd games in recent seasons. In 2010, Beaston lost his temper at an official after a disputed out-of-bounds call late, and had to be calmed down by then-assistant Shawn Shriver. TC battled back to win that game in overtime, a contest where TC’s Derek Kneeskern went over 1,000 points for his career.

Last season, the Tornadoes had a two-point lead here, only to see the school’s multi-sport nemesis, Jalen Santoro, catch a full-court pass an score just before the buzzer to end regulation. Santoro’s basket sent things to OT, where the Redmen prevailed.

So, even after holding a reasonably comfortable lead most of the night, Beaston had good reason to be less than confident when Alec Demith’s free throw put his team up 53-44 with 2 minutes left.

Chuck Dendinger quickly hit a 3 to cut Bellevue’s deficit to six. After TC missed a shot, Bellevue’s Thomas Pressler hit a 3 from the wing. It was 53-50 with 1:11 left.

Then Dendinger stole the ball and scored an uncontested layup to make it 53-52 with 1:01 left.

It was an 8-0 run in 59 seconds.

“Do we need to learn some things late in games? Yes,” Beaston said. “We need to understand situations; when to shoot, when not to shoot. Sometimes first options in breaking pressure is not the best option. Maybe we need to look at Option 2, Option 3.”

Bellevue forced another Tornado turnover on the ensuing possession, then Pressler was ruled to be fouled in the act of shooting with 41 seconds left.

The Redmen had a chance for their first lead, but Pressler missed both foul shots.

Free throws were a problem for Bellevue, as it finished 10 for 21 from the line.

“In the second half, we did what we needed to do and were in position to get the win,” Bellevue coach Brad Scheiber said. “That’s all we ask. That’s all we talk about.”

Bellevue had a few more chances after that, but turned the ball over twice in the final half minute. Down three, Pressler was fouled at halfcourt, and went to the line with 2.2 seconds left. He made the first, and missed the second. TC’s Derek Dryfuse grabbed the rebound to all but secure the win.

Dryfuse finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, leading Columbian in both areas.

“I thought Derek got beat up inside tonight, which is good for him,” Beaston said. “He needs to see that, but I thought he still played strong and we did a good job feeding off of how they were defending him.”

With Dryfuse getting plenty of attention, Moore stepped up. He had 11 points – eight in the first half – and hit three jump shots from just inside the 3-point line.

“It felt good, honestly,” Moore said of making the shots. “I was missing a lot in warmups, and then the Bellevue student section was in my ear telling me how I was missing, so I came out and didn’t miss.”

Moore also finished with seven rebounds, as Columbian improved to 10-9, 5-5 in the Northern Ohio League. Flint added 12 points.

Bellevue (4-15, 1-9) was led by Presser’s 16 points. Josh McNeely added five points and nine rebounds for the Redmen, who fell as far as 15 points down in the first half.

“We’ve got to come out and start a game,” Scheiber said. “We just can’t get hot early. We’re a good second-half team, but we just can’t spot anybody.”

For Beaston and his team, it’s just about winning.

“Our motto is to win the day, find a way, and together we will,” he said. “And these guys do it.”

TC won. So as for everything else, well, forget it.

It’s Columbian basketball.