Bristol wins lucky No. 13 over Badger

KINSMAN – With 2:23 remaining in the first quarter, Bristol coach Craig Giesy had seen enough and called a timeout.

The Panthers allowed a 10-point lead against Badger to dwindle to one point, with the Braves taking steals and scoring easy layups on the other end. Bristol also had recorded seven fouls, putting Badger into the bonus.

“I thought we lost our focus midway through the first quarter,” Giesy said. “We got a little lead, and we lost it. We have a tendency to reach too much instead of moving feet and letting our system work. So, we just wanted to remind the kids to quit reaching.”

The Panthers responded out of the timeout, going on a 17-0 run that sparked a definitive 91-52 win over the Braves on Friday night.

Bristol (13-0, 7-0 Northeastern Athletic Conference) started that run without senior Chad Oliver, who picked up his second foul at the 3:35 mark in the first quarter and spent most of the game in foul trouble.

Junior Brandon Lee stepped into the void and led the charge, dropping 17 of his team-high 21 points in the first half. He scored on the fast break, off the offensive glass and even in the half-court sets.

“Brandon Lee’s a big player for us,” Giesy said. “We knew that going into the season. He’s starting to play more consistent is what he’s doing. He’s had games like this – now, it’s starting to happen more often. He’s getting a little more comfortable.

“We know that we can go to him. We know we’re not all Chad Oliver. We have other guys that can play.”

The Panthers did show they were more than Oliver, with four guys reaching double figures and nine Panthers making the scoresheet.

Lee said he hasn’t been the only one to step up when Oliver has been in foul trouble, and the team will need to continue to do so.

“He’s going to have foul trouble, have bad games,” Lee said. “We have to step up as a team. It’s not just one person, we have the whole team, and we need people to step here and there.

“I think that we’ve done that this year.”

For Badger (6-5, 2-4), Brandon Bates carried the team for much of the game, especially in the second quarter.

The junior scored the Braves’ first six points in the quarter and totaled 10 of the team’s 16. He finished with a game-high 27 points.

Coach Chris Mott said that foul trouble and Bristol’s high-pressure defense were the reasons the Braves struggled for most of the game and had to rely on Bates.

“(Bates) is a good ball player, but we some had some other pieces that really didn’t contribute tonight like they normally do,” Mott said. “Because of the foul situation, but a lot of it was Bristol. They do what they do pretty darn good, and that was their type of game out there. That wasn’t our type of game out there.”

As evidenced by Badger’s first quarter run before the timeout, the Panthers know and expect to get everybody’s best, especially with the undefeated record stretching out to midway through the season. Lee said the team needs to stay focused no matter the opponent.

“We know that everybody wants to come out and beat us,” Lee said. “We have to work hard at practice and come focused every day. Playing confident, not cocky – that’s the focus we have.”