Brian Johnson Special Correspondent
The Ada News
BETHEL ACRES —
Jacob Birdshead drilled two critical free throws with 16 seconds to go as the Byng Pirates overcame a six-point fourth-quarter deficit to edge the host Bethel Wildcats 44-43 Friday night.
After Birdshead converted both free shots, Bethel tried to go for the tie, but Matt Watson’s deep 2-pointer from near the right corner was off the mark as Kiiyaani Bohan corralled the rebound as the buzzer.
The Pirates, who improved to 10-7 with the victory, have beaten the Wildcats two out of three times this season. The first win came a week ago in the semifinals of Bethel’s CD Warehouse Classic. Bethel actually knocked off Byng earlier in the season at Byng.
“I was proud of our effort in some adverse situations. Our kids showed a lot of character,” said Byng head coach Trent Miller. “We weren’t strong the whole game. Bethel had a lot to do with that. But I thought we defended well and found a way to win.”
The Pirates trailed 38-32 with 4:29 to go but limited the Wildcats to only five points, including just one field goal, the rest of the way.
A conventional 3-point play by Joe Nemecek pulled Byng within 38-35. Reid Wall then hit a layup after a Kiiyaani Bohan steal to make it 38-37 with 3:58 remaining.
Trailing 41-38, the Pirates scored four straight points as Dineh Bohan scored off a feed from his brother Kiiyaani. Wall later scored after he recorded a steal to put Byng on top at 42-41 with 1:44 left.
Bethel’s 6-foot, 6-inch big man Trevor Stark then converted a heavily-contested shot off a pass from Clint Simmons to put the Wildcats up, 43-42, with 33 seconds to go.
A foul away from the basket set the stage for Birdshead to knock down his game-tying and game-winning charity tosses.
“We showed mental toughness. Those were big free throws (by Birdshead),” Miller said.
Wall led Byng with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor, and Dineh Bohan chipped in 10 points on 4-of-8 field-goal shooting. Birdshead ended up with eight points as he canned two of his team’s three treys while connecting on both of his free throws.
Stark paced Bethel with a game-leading 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 free shots. Andrew Kinnamon also drained 6-of-7 free throws and was 2-of-3 from the field in finishing with 10 points.
The Wildcats lost despite shooting over 50 percent (12-of-23) and canning 16-of-20 free shots (80 percent). The Pirates were only 66.7 percent from the charity stripe (10-of-15) and 46.9 from the floor (15-of-32).
Bethel also owned a 21-11 rebounding advantage.
Byng returns to action Tuesday by hosting Latta.