Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


January 25, 2014

GC Basketball: Blooming Grove boys beat Buffalo 73-68 to take over sole possession of third in 23-2A

Blooming Grove —  Sure, it  says Blooming Grove on the map, but on Friday night you could have called the place Boom-Boom Grove.

    That’s Boom, as in a monster 3 from Dalton Blake and Boom-Boom, as in an even a bigger one from Daniel Pelzel.

    Those two fired from the hip from beyond the arc in the final minutes with back-to-back shots that had courage and some guts on each, shots that hit the bottom of the net and buried Buffalo with them -- two clutch shots that took this game away from the Bisons and gave it to the Lions, who roared (Yup, that’s what you do when you hit big 3s, you roar) to a 73-68 win that shattered a two-way tie for the third spot in the District 23-2A race.

    Well, technically it’s the third spot, but in reality this win -- this had-to-have win -- leaves Blooming Grove a full game ahead of Buffalo (5-3) and just one game in the loss column behind Mildred and Marlin, who are the top of the race.

    Don’t look now, but the Blooming Boomers are rising, and Friday night’s win at home means they can still win it all. They’re 6-2 with four games left, and guess what? They get both Mildred and Marlin at home.

    The place with be booming on both nights. They will pack it for the Marlin game, and even more will show up for the Mildred showdown. That’s what those big 3s and the win meant to Blooming Grove’s kids, who are right in the middle of the 23-2A hunt.

    “This game was huge. We’re one game in back of both of them and it feels great that we get them both here,’’ BG Coach Ben Kinnison said after watching his kids pull this one out on Friday on a wild ride that could have made most teams dizzy.

    Up, down, up down, and finally a rush at the end of the night that finally put away a Buffalo team that simply wouldn’t quit. No one could have been hotter than the Lions, who hit five of their first eight shots and forced five turnovers over the first four minutes of the game to jump out to a 16-0.

    But with Pelzel, the consummate point guard, on the bench in foul trouble, Buffalo found a gap and stormed right back with an unrelenting defense that forced one turnover after another. The Bisons (12-9 for the season) closed to 36-31 by halftime despite an almost inspirational performance by BG’s Juanya Pyburn, who scored 13 points in the second quarter alone and went to halftime with 17 points and eight rebounds. By the time the night was over, Pyburn had 23 points, a big-time block and a career-high 19 rebounds.

    The Bisons, who forced 15 turnovers in the second and third quarters and finished with 26 for the night, just kept coming, and took their first lead when Bryce Pavel made a steal and drive with 3:45 left to lift Buffalo to a 61-60 lead. The two teams that were locked in the 23-2A a tie before the game, swapped leads down the stretch, but Buffalo seem to have the momentum and when Pavel, who finished with 18 points, hit a drive with 1:53 left for a 66-65 lead, it was time for a big play.

    Enter Blake, who had scored just three points all night when he unleashed his 3 with 1:40 left. Boom! The Lions quickly forced a turnover and then came Pelzel, who made four three and finished with 13 points. Boom! And just like that, in a matter of handful of seconds, Blooming Grove had taken over with a six-point explosion and a 71-66 lead with 1:10 left.

    “When he shot it I felt good,’’ said Kinnison of Blake’s bomb. “He had his feet set and had good rhythm. It felt great when it went in.”

    Blake never blinked.

    “When I let it go I knew it! It felt real good when it left my hands,’’ Blake said.

    Then came Pelzel’s nail in the coffin.

    “Everybody wanted the ball in his hands,’’ Blake said. “Nobody wanted it. We all wanted him to take it. He’s the captain!”

    “And I wanted to take it,’’ said Pelzel, a four-year starter who eats and sleeps BG hoops. “When I made it I was happy, real happy.’’

    So was Kinnison, who had watched his kids run out to the big lead, lose it and then snatch it back with two hold-your-breath shots.

    “I’ve never seen him so mad when we were winning,’’ Blake said of Kinnison’s halftime speech.

    They were all smiles afterward from Tyler Lewis, who hit three big 3s and finished with 10 points to Rowdy Barlow, who was tough inside all night, dropping in 14 points and pulling down nine rebounds, to Keller Southard, who came off the bench and hit two big shots and finished with four points and Brody Owens, who hit a big 3 in the wild third quarter.

    The Lions, who are now 18-5 for the season, love the 3. They have been firing them all year. They made 11 on Friday, including seven in the second half when they needed them most -- and their last nine points from the floor came on 3s, including Lewis’ clutch shot that gave BG a 65-64 lead with 2:01 left.

    It took all that and more to survive on Friday -- to step up and into the third spot in 23-2A. But it’s just the beginning of what could be finish.

    “This game was big. It was huge,” Blake said. “It was the biggest game so far, but every game is the biggest game. Every game we play from now on is the biggest game.’’


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