It’s amazing how fast things can change in an instant.
Gavin Richards had just hit a three pointer to give Tri Village a one point lead midway through the third quarter of the game that would determine the Cross County Conference champions. A win by Bethel and they would celebrate their first outright title since 1984. A loss to the Patriots and they would share the crown.
Just then it all turned around.
Jacob Evans hit two consecutive three-point shots that gave the Bees the momentum that carried over into the fourth quarter, where they finished off the Patriots and claimed the CCC title with a 73-63 victory. Bethel pushed their lead to 17 points in the closing two minutes.
“When I played here it was about winning league titles and I felt that wasn’t the standard anymore,” said Bethel coach Brett Kopp. “From day one our goal was to win a league title and the guys did that.”
Tri Village controlled the opening quarter, getting out to a quick 10-3 lead before the Bees battled back. Ryan Rose hit a three which started a 13-7 run by Bethel which included seven points from Caleb South, including a big three to close out the quarter and bring the Bees to within one 17-16 after the opening period.
After the Patriots opened the second period with a quick run by Trace Couch, the Bees settled in and the two teams exchanged the lead six times for the remainder of the half.
Bethel used a huge three and midrange shot from Rose before South buried a long range three with two seconds left to give the Bees a 29-27 lead at the half.
The Bees had built a six point lead to start the third period when Gavin Richards brought the Pats back. The senior scored seven consecutive points including a three to give the Patriots a 35-34 lead with 5:20 left.
That’s when Evans hit two three’s in the span of a minute, and with four minutes left in the third period, the Bees had the lead for good at 40-35.
“This summer Jacob looked me like I had four eyes when I told him that he needed to shoot the three more,” Kopp said. “I want to score as many points up and down as possible. He does all the dirty work, and when he is hitting it is hard to guard us.”
Bethel took an 11-point lead into the fourth but the Patriots had one last run in them closing the game to six, but the Beed never lost the momentum the entire time and quickly took the game back to double figures on their way to the win.
Bethel was led by South with 24, while Rose added 18 and Evans scored 12. Leading the way for the Patriots was Richards with 26 and Couch added 20.
The Bees now wrap up the regular season on Friday at Newton before heading into tournament play.