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Ludlow boys, Bellevue girls win close games in NKAC Classic basketball tournament finals

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

The championship games of the NKAC Classic on Saturday at Ludlow lived up to expectations. The top two teams in the boys and girls Division III basketball standings faced off in both finals and the winners weren’t decided until late in the fourth quarter.

Bellevue’s girls scored seven straight points at the free throw line in the last 76 seconds of their game to come away with a 48-42 win over Ludlow, the first-place team in their division standings.

Spencer Brandenburg

In the boys game, Ludlow had a slim two-point lead with 0:33 left on the clock and closed it out with a 6-0 run to get past Bellevue, 81-73, and sweep the division and tournament titles.

“It was a great game and Bellevue played extremely hard,” said Ludlow boys coach Aaron Stamm. “I thought we buckled down there late in the fourth quarter when we needed to make a few stops and that was a big part of the game.”

There were five lead changes during the first half of the boys game that ended with Bellevue holding a 42-34 lead. But Ludlow opened the second half with a 10-4 run and trimmed the margin to 46-44 when junior Spencer Brandenburg made his fourth 3-point goal of the night.

“We came into the locker room (at halftime) and the coaches kept us psyched and we went out there and knocked down some shots and just got back in it from there,” Brandenburg said.

Bellevue pulled ahead once again, 53-46, and the Panthers responded with a 16-4 scoring binge that put them on top, 62-57, early in the fourth quarter. Ludlow senior guard Ethan Powell got eight of his team-high 22 points during that decisive rally.

The Tigers cut the lead to two points six times over the next five minutes of the game. It was a 3-point goal by junior guard Zach Mertens that made it 75-73 with 33 seconds left on the clock, but Bellevue did not score on its final three possessions and Ludlow ended the game with a 6-0 run.

Ludlow coach Aaron Stamm

“We talked at the start of the game about three things — we had to hustle, we had to play with effort and we had to execute (on offense),” said Bellevue boys coach Jim Hicks. “In the first half, we did a tremendous job of all three. The second half we did a tremendous job with the hustle and effort parts. It was just the execution down the stretch where we fell a little short.”

Ludlow ended up shooting 48.4 percent (31 of 64) from the field compared to Bellevue’s 41.7 percent (28 of 67) and the teams made a combined total of 17 3-point goals.

The Panthers’ leading scorers were Powell with 22 points, senior forward Elijah Perrin with 21 and Brandenburg with 20. Bellevue’s team leaders were senior guards Noah Frommeyer and Jase Iles with 22 and 14 points.

Brandenburg was named most valuable player after the boys game. The girls award went to Bellevue junior guard Sydni Massey, who scored eight of her team’s last 11 points, including three of the seven free throws that secured the win.

Sydni Massey

“I’m just so proud of how hard our girls fought,” said Bellevue coach Tommy Sorrell. “We kind of struggled offensively, but they hung in there and just kept fighting. They made key free throws down the stretch and I can’t be more proud of them.”

After getting outscored 20-6 in the third quarter, the Tigers were behind, 35-29, going into the final period. That’s when a 3-point goal by Jayda Dowell and stick-back basket by Ally MacPherson started a rally that put them ahead, 41-40, with 1:23 remaining.

Massey and Jaylah Dowell each made three free throws and MacPherson made one to push the lead to 48-40 before Ludlow got the game’s final field goal that made it a six-point victory.

The game’s leading scorers were Ludlow guard Prestyn King with 15 points, followed by Jayda Dowell with 12 and Massey with 11 for Bellevue.

“We give (coach) heart attacks the way we play,” Massey said. “We don’t give as much in the beginning, but once we realize we have to turn it up, we give it our all at the end. That’s when we all come together and say, ‘We’ve got this.'”


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