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BRYAN - Evergreen had a nearly automatic source of points last night in senior center Brock Bates, who made 11 baskets on low-post layups.
But Bryan seemed to have an automatic source of points too - the 3-point shot. And the fact that three is greater than two was a major reason the Golden Bears claimed a 64-60 victory.
Bryan connected on nine of its first 14 3-point attempts - that's a sizzling 64.3 percent mark - and got at least one 3-pointer from six different players as they handed the Vikings their first Northwest Ohio Athletic League loss this season.
The two teams will share the NWOAL title with identical 7-1 records.
"Every time we left them open, they hit one," Evergreen coach Jerry Keifer said of Bryan's 3-point prowess. "And it didn't matter who took it. We had a couple of breakdowns, but they earned the other seven.
"They flat-out knocked them down."
The Golden Bears held a 15-13 lead after one quarter, but Evergreen led 29-25 at the break thanks to the scoring of Bates and Chad Mossing.
The Vikings kept feeding Bates the ball in the low post, and the 6-9 senior had 11 points in that half, while Mossing added nine as Evergreen made seven of its eight shots from the field in the second quarter.
"They are very good at what they do," Bryan coach Doug Billman said. "A lot of teams try to take Bates and Mossing away, and they still score.
"We just tried to limit the touches of the other guys, and hopefully their shots wouldn't fall."
But Evergreen went cold in the third quarter, making just three of 10 from the floor, while Bryan kept making shots from behind the arc. Four different players made at least one in the third period as the Golden Bears built a 44-39 lead.
"We all can stroke the 3," said Matt Jones, who finished with 23 points. "We like to take them, but we don't always make them. Tonight we made them, especially when they mattered."
Perhaps the biggest came when Jacob Hollabaugh wiggled free on an inbounds play and connected on a 3-pointer early in the third quarter.
"Maybe some people weren't expecting him to knock that one down, but Jake stepped up," Billman said. "He's a senior leader, and he really stepped up right there."
The Golden Bears didn't hit a 3-pointer in the final quarter, but they didn't need to. Jones made five baskets in the early going, and Bryan held off a late Evergreen rally by making eight of 14 free throws.
Dan Gallagher had 13 points to back Jones, while Austen Alabata added seven points and grabbed 10 second-half rebounds as the Golden Bears improved to 10-8 overall and won for the ninth time in the last 11 games after a 1-6 start.
"This is as good as it gets," Jones said. "We had a rough start, but we started turning it around after Christmas break. And we're rolling now."
Bates finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Mossing had 17 as the Vikings fell to 15-4 overall.
"[Bryan was] outstanding, but I was pleased with our kids' effort too," Keifer said. "If we would have come out and gotten beat by 20 points, I would have really been disappointed.
"But we played very well at times, and we never quit. I'm disappointed that we didn't win the league outright. But when we wake up, we're still going to be league champs."
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