Bellaire went through one in the nightcap. The Eagles led by as many as nine early in the third quarter, but could not put the Norsemen away.
“This time of the year, with the caliber of teams you’re going to run into, you’ve got to survive and we managed to do that,” Bellaire coach Stan Sexton said. “These kids are competitors. When we played Suttons Bay the first time we won by 20, but it was much closer than that. These kids reached down and responded tonight and we have to do it again Wednesday because that’s a very good ball club at Frankfort.”
Denny Hall and Drew Bailey paced the Eagles with 11 points each. Tyler Thornton added 10.
Logan Mikesell netted 12 for Suttons Bay (10-13), which had won seven of its last eight entering the contest.
“They (Norsemen) play in a much stronger, more aggressive league than we play in,” Sexton said. “We kept referring to that (first) Suttons Bay game as to how those kids played hard, strong defense. And that’s what we’re going to be up against from here on out. The soft defensive teams are gone.”
The Eagles lost Hall on fouls with 2:57 remaining. Bellaire was up 38-34 at that point, but the Norsemen could not capitalize.
“Our offense kind of stalled the second half,” Suttons Bay coach Ron Anderson said. “We had a hard time getting passes into the post. They’re a good team. When we got Hall out of the game, we thought we could make a move. We just didn’t execute our plays at the end.”
Nonetheless, it was quite a turnaround to the season for the Norsemen.
“I fully expected to be here,” Anderson said. “I thought we were good enough to win our district. When we walked off the court the first time I told Stan (Sexton), ‘I think we’re going to see you again.’ If we do, we’re district champs, and that’s coming a long way for a team that was 3-11.”