By FARIS KATKHUDA, BELLARMINE COLLEGE PREP
March 7, 2013
The Bellarmine Bells advance to the second round of the Northern California Division I Regionals, after they kept the lead throughout the entire game in a 65-46 victory over the Lincoln-San Francisco Mustangs.
“Tonight we had a lot of energy built up and a lot of frustration about how we didn’t finish some games in league,” said Bellarmine coach Patrick Schneider. “Our mindset is that this was the first step, and we want to keep taking steps.”
Unfortunately for the Mustangs (17-14), the game was all but decided in the first quarter. After a four minute, 16-1 run by the Bells (20-9), Lincoln simply couldn’t catch up, although the Mustangs did decrease the lead to 10 points by halftime.
Senior guard Grant “Boo” Vermeer started the run with a lay-up six seconds into the game, but this was only followed by two three-pointers from Vermeer and a three pointer from senior guard Blair Mendy, who finished with 17 points.
“Vermeer got off to a hot start. An easy layup and a couple of shots, and we were kind of chasing from there,” said Lincoln coach Matt Jackson. “It wasn’t really execution from their part. We just didn’t bring intensity from the tip-off. And after that, we were ready, and we played them evenly until the end. But, in a game like this, with their physicality, you have to be ready to attack earlier.”
Defense was also extremely important in the run, as the Bells racked up 12 rebounds and eight steals in the first quarter alone.
“We usually start off pretty fast at home,” said Mendy. “We made shots, got open shots, and got to the rim. It was really good for us.”
However, after Vermeer -- who scored 11 of his 20 points during the run -- drew his second foul and was placed on the bench, the scoring for the Bells slowed down.
“Vermeer had a great start,” Schneider said. “Unfortunately, the first foul call on him probably wasn’t on him, and when he picked up his second, it sent us into a tailspin.”
Lincoln senior guard Demetrius Williams, who scored 19 points, ended the scoring for the quarter, with a fast-break layup with 0:38 left. Although the run stopped, the Bells led 21-7 after one quarter and 31-21 at halftime.
In the third quarter, although Lincoln made two three-pointers and an and-1, Bellarmine reacted with three three-pointers of its own, two of which were from the Navy-bound Vermeer. He also ended the scoring in the quarter with an outstanding alley-oop dunk, raising the score to 48-36.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, Lincoln simply couldn’t close the gap, especially as the Bells went on a one-minute, 6-point run at the end of the game.
The Bells were able to stay in the lead with their strong defense, recording 10 steals and 38 rebounds to five steals and 24 rebounds for the Mustangs.
Now the Bells are looking ahead.
“We’re playing close to our potential,” Mendy said. “We still have another step to go and we just want to keep bringing in these NorCal wins.”
Bellarmine faces visiting McClymonds at 7 p.m. Saturday in the second round of the Division I regionals.
“We played at McClymonds in the pre-season, and we had a gutty win,” said Schneider. “According to all accounts and reports, they’re playing much better, so we have to come out and play a great game on Saturday night.”