NHIAA Boys' Basketball: Bedford wins, stays red-hot
Bedford's Cameron Meservey, loses the ball as he falls over Central's Nick Makris during Friday's game. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
The Bulldogs (12-6) reeled off their sixth straight win, ninth in 10 games, and they did it without ever trailing against a Central team that hadn't lost a regular-season game until 12 days ago.
Now, the Little Green (15-3) have lost three straight as they head into the Division I tournament, which starts Tuesday.
"We wanted to go into it playing well and we're not," Central coach Doc Wheeler said. "This is that last thing we wanted."
The tone was set early and repeated often. Bedford scored at least the first four points of every quarter to build a lead. Central made a run. One of the Bulldogs killed the momentum with a big shot.
The scenario played out throughout the game.
"Credit Bedford. They answered every time," Wheeler said.
The Bulldogs opened up by scoring the first six points of the game. They pressured the Little Green, forcing Central into turning the ball over on its first five possessions and seven of its first nine.
"Bedford was motivated to come out and play right away," Wheeler said. "It sure looked like we weren't."
By the time they settled into any kind of rhythm, the Little Green were down 10-4. They trailed 12-9 after one quarter and were behind 16-9 in the first minute of the second quarter after Bedford's Cam Meservey (12 points) stole the ball and finished the break with a one-handed dunk.
The Little Green were down by as many as 10 points, but regrouped, scoring on seven of their final eight possessions to tie the game at 28-all after a 3-pointer by Troy Pelletier (19 points) with 17 seconds left in the half.
Meservey had the answer, getting fouled shooting a 3 at the buzzer. He made all three free throws to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.
Bedford held Central to two points over the first 5:42 of the third quarter to open up a 44-30 lead. Back came the Little Green as Brett Hanson (21 points) knocked down two of his six 3-pointers to make it 44-40. And again, the Bulldogs had a response.
Bedford scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to go up 49-40 after a free throw by big man Sam Thomas (18 points), who was fouled following up his own miss. It was one of 13 points Bedford scored on offensive rebounds as it controlled the boards behind Thomas and James Caparell (11 points).
The Little Green's last run came midway through the fourth quarter when they closed to within 52-49 after free throws by Pelletier and Hanson. This time is was Taylor Grande (13 points) who had the answer for Bedford, scoring off a jumper in the lane and following up with a pair of free throws to kick start a 9-0 run that sealed the game.
"We're improving steadily," first-year Bedford coach Mike Fitzpatrick said, adding his team is getting used to his system. "They're just getting what we do down."