Clyde holds off Bellevue, Ruhlman injured
BELLEVUE — It did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that Saturday’s game between Clyde and Bellevue changed when Bellevue guard Trey Ruhlman went out with an injury.
The senior is the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division’s leading scorer and missed three games over the past few weeks.
The Redmen lost each of those games before Ruhlman returned Thursday in a win over Columbian in which he scored his 1,000th career point.
So when Ruhlman clutched his hamstring in pain with Bellevue leading by two points, the Fliers attacked.
Clyde stayed within two points at halftime before nearly completed shutting down the Redmen offense in the second half in a 52-37 SBC Lake win.
“You hate to see that. He is such a competitor, and such a great kid,” Clyde coach Ryan Fretz said. “We knew the answer tonight was bringing the pressure. They do not have a lot of back court experience.”
Ruhlman was scoreless in the first quarter, but scored seven straight points for the Bellevue offense just before leaving the game.
“There is no doubt the game changed,” Bellevue coach Ed Rich said. “He was not lighting up the scoreboard, but he was facilitating everything. Their focus on him made it a lot easier for Caleb (Marshall) to score.”
Trailing 30-28 at halftime, the Fliers (5-4 overall, 3-1 SBC Lake) turned their full defensive focus to 6-foot-5 junior post Marshall. After scoring 15 of Bellevue’s 17 points in the first quarter, a combined defense effort by Clyde held Marshall to four points in the second half including none in the fourth quarter.
“We were able to come up with a couple different schemes that we were going to try against Marshall in the second half,” Fretz said. “Literally it came down to keeping the pressure on them and stopping Caleb.”
On the offensive side, Will Dowling scored before Cam Farrar drilled a 3. Bellevue (4-6, 1-3) committed a turnover and Brock Newsome scored and was fouled. He made the free throw and suddenly Clyde led 40-32 at the 5:12 mark of the third quarter.
Later, Dowling hit a jumper to extend the lead to double digits. The Redmen drew within six points in the last minute of the quarter, but Derick Harrah made two free throws to give Clyde a 44-36 lead after three quarters.
“Coming into the game, I felt like our offensive scheme was to get the ball to the post,” Dowling said. “I think coach Fretz made wonderful calls on plays. I was happy to get the ball and score.”
For as tough as the Flier defense was in the third quarter, they were nearly untouchable in the final eight minutes. Clyde consistently pressured the Redmen into tough possession after tough possession.
Bellevue could not get any offense going, missing all 10 shots it took while committing four turnovers. The only score the Redmen registered was when Keegan Ray hit the second of two free throws with 1:45 left. Bellevue went the final 10:05 of the game without a field goal.
“Their pressure is what got us,” Rich said. “We were rushing through. We work on finishing off two feet all the time and finishing on balance. I would say almost every shot we took in the fourth quarter was off balance.”
Marshall showed nearly his entire repertoire of skills in the first quarter, consistently driving from the top of the arc through the teeth of the Clyde defense before finishing at the rim. He capped the first seven points of the game for the Bellevue offense with a thunderous dunk in front of the Clyde student section. Later he scored six straight points as the Redmen led 17-8 with 1:11 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Bellevue maintained a six-point lead before the Clyde offense settled in on the shoulders of Harrah. He scored the first seven points of the quarter for the Fliers and a jumper by Dowling gave Clyde its first lead at 20-19.
Ruhlman’s foul line jumper — his first points of the game — gave Bellevue the lead back. He added a 3 and another bucket before leaving the game with 1:47 left in the second quarter.
“Caleb is a really tough matchup,” Rich said. “A lot of his stuff was falling early. In that second half, he could not get anything to fall. His legs were tired.”
Marshall tallied 23 points and 10 rebounds and after Ruhlman’s seven points, no other Bellevue player scored more than two points.
“Somebody finally stepping up and playing defense on (Marshall) is what changed,” Fretz said. “I told Jack (Morrison) that he was tall and physical and to go stop him. He came out and did exactly what we asked him to do.”
Dowling led the Fliers with 22 points. He grabbed four rebounds and also defended Marshall, while being defended at times by Marshall.
“He is extremely good,” Rich said of Dowling. “He is a big, physical kid, but he has got a nice touch from the mid-range. Dowling was not a guy we were laying off by any means, but we were focused on (Farrar) and (Harrah).”
Farrar struggled with foul trouble and shooting woes, but his nine rebounds proved to be key, helping Clyde out-rebound the Redmen 32-27.
“For him, it is a senior growing up,” Fretz said. “He realized tonight was not his night to score, but he contributed in other ways.”
Harrah added 16 points and six rebounds for the Fliers, who now find themselves tied atop the SBC Lake standings with Norwalk (7-2, 3-1) and Sandusky (4-4, 3-1).