It took only two minutes for the Bedford boys basketball team to take control of their contest against Whiteford last night.
The Mules scored 10 unanswered points in the first two minutes of the third quarter and blew out the Bobcats 17-3 in the period. That spurt allowed Bedford to claim a 71-57 victory in the first semifinal game of Emmanuel Christian's Warrior Classic at Parmelee Gym.
Bedford, which improved to 3-2 with the win, will look to win the tournament title for the fourth time in five years when it faces Springfield in tonight's championship contest starting at 7:30.
The Blue Devils beat the host school 58-34 in last night's second game.
"That third quarter was a blur," said coach Brad Stevens of Whiteford, which dropped to 2-3. "It didn't take much for them to get a spark, and they ran with it. They attacked our zone at the weak spots, which were inside, and they made things happen that made their confidence grow."
With the score tied 36-36 at the break, Bedford got five quick points from Justin Osentoski to take the lead. Joshua Albright then hit a jumper in the lane and Todd Wagner drilled a 3-pointer before Stevens could call a timeout with 5:59 left in the quarter.
"We just found another gear," Bedford coach Bill Ryan said. "We went to the boards with conviction, and we knocked down some shots that had been rimming out."
The timeout seemed to slow the Mules a little, but they scored seven more points in the final two minutes of the period to build a 53-39 advantage. White-
ford came no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
"We wanted some offensive balance, so we wanted to get Josh Albright and some of our other post players some touches," Ryan said. "I thought we got some inside-out action, and that was beneficial."
The Mules made 7 of 11 from the field in the third quarter, connected on 3 of 7 from behind the 3-point arc, and got points from five different players.
"Our main goal was to get back quickly on defense because they were killing us in transition," said Wagner, who finished with a game-high 21 points. "We just wanted to execute our offense better. We ran the court well, got open shots and knocked them down."
Meanwhile Whiteford connected on only one of its 10 shots from the field in the third quarter and was outrebounded 9-5.
"We didn't get good shots, and when we took a shot we maybe had one rebounder - and they had four guys going for the ball," Stevens said. "When you miss out on two points you might get, and you give them two points, you give them a four-point swing."
The Bobcats' third-quarter struggles came after a solid first half in which their defense forced 11 Bedford turnovers - the Mules committed 21 in the contest. And Whiteford's offense relied on a quick transition game to create scoring opportunities.
"I was disappointed, because we tried to be deceptive and get in and out of defenses," Ryan said. "We decided we just had to pick one and go with it, because we would look to the bench for a defensive call and they would transition to the basket."
Wagner was backed by 15 points by Osentoski and 11 from Ricky Rightnowar. Josh DuPree led the Bobcats with 19 points while Dave Gust added 10.
The Mules helped maintain control of the game by outrebounding Whiteford 43-25 thanks to seven boards by Matt Drew and six apiece by Joseph Osentoski and Rightnowar.
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