LEES CREEK — The East Clinton Astros dropped a hard-fought home opener to the Bethel-Tate Tigers Friday night, 59-51.
The Astros battled back from big second quarter deficit, but were unable to complete the comeback.
“We are gonna be undersized all year,” EC head coach Tony Berlin said. “We have to fight through it. But I do see progress. We just need to put four quarters together. We played in the second half tonight much more how we’d like.”
The Astros were led in scoring by Branson Smith who totaled 21 points. Also in double figures for the Astros was Colton Vadnais, who scored 12.
Kyle Smith led a balanced Tiger scoring attack with 16 points.
The Astros fall to 0-2 on the young season while the Tigers are a perfect 2-0.
East Clinton is right back in action Saturday night as they travel to Fayetteville to take on the Rockets.
Cold shooting and turnovers plagued both teams in the early going as midway through the first quarter the score was deadlocked at 4. The game switched in the Tigers favor at the 3:45 mark as Vadnais picked up his second personal foul. With Vadnais sidelined, the Tigers took advantage and went on a 10-0 run to end the first quarter.
The Bethel-Tate run continued into the second quarter until four straight points by Astro senior Gunner Neanover stopped what had been 15 unanswered points for the Tigers. Teams traded buckets until late in the second quarter. Coach Berlin’s Astros then switched to a zone defense, coupled with some increased defensive pressure, and stifled the Tiger offense. Branson Smith came alive for the home team on the offensive end with 9 second quarter points allowing Astros to close the deficit to 31-24 as the teams went to the locker room.
Berlin said Smith “put us on his back in the second quarter.” The Astros coach also mentioned the play of Vadnais, who “had a great week of practice and it showed on the floor tonight.”
Behind some inspired all-around play by the returning Vadnais, the Astros were able to whittle the Bethel-Tate advantage to three at the 3:42 mark of the third. However, the turnover bug got the Astros again late in the period as the Tigers stretched the lead back to 10, 44-34, as the fourth quarter began.
Early in the fourth, Vadnais fouled out as the size of Bethel Tate continued to be bothersome for the Astros. However, successive drives to the basket by Smith and junior Quinton Tolle cut the Tiger lead to three as the clocked ticked under the 4:00 mark.
The inside presence of Tiger center Luke Frondorf came into play again as he squelched the Astro run with an old-fashioned three-point play. As the game clock went under the 1:30 mark, EC junior Dylan Peterman drained a long three to once again draw the Astros to within four. Unfortunately for the home squad, that was as close as they would get.
In the junior varsity game, Logan Swaney made a last-second field goal to give East Clinton a 36-35 victory.
Dec 6, 2019
@East Clinton High School
Bethel-Tate 59 East Clinton 51
(59) BETHEL-TATE (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Smith 6-0-4-16 Vining 5-3-1-14 Rewert 2-0-0-4 Manz 0-0-7-7 Brookenthal 3-0-3-9 Williams 0-0-1-1 Stiles 0-0-0-0 Frondorf 2-0-4-8 Weis 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 18-3-20/30-59
(51) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) B Smith 9-0-3-21 Runyon 2-0-0-4 Tolle 1-0-3-5 Peterman 1-1-2-5 Vadnais 3-0-6-12 Collom 0-0-0-0 Neanover 2-0-0-4 Hall 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 18-1-14/18-51
Brian Georges covers high school basketball for the News Journal.