BYNG — For the first half of Byng's 61-54 victory over Bethel Tuesday at the Bill Koller Fieldhouse, the Pirates looked more like the team that won just 11 games all of last season than the club that had already posted 11 wins through 17 games in 2005-2006.

By intermission, Bethel had 11 offensive rebounds (including eight in the first quarter) and an 18-14 advantage on the boards, and the Wildcats had turned the ball over only three times while forcing nine Byng miscues. The Pirates — who lived or died with their outside shooting for much of last season — managed to eke out a 29-27 halftime lead only because they hit 10 of their 19 shots in the first two periods while Bethel managed just nine field goals in 31 attempts.

But Byng erupted for 22 third-quarter points — eight by center Caleb Timmons and seven by Jordan Parnacher — and dominated the boards in the second half en route to a victory that pushed the Pirates above their 2004-2005 total with five games and the postseason still remaining on their schedule.

“We settled down and got the ball inside and rebounded better in the second half,” Byng coach Tommy Eaton said after watching his club beat Bethel for the third time this season. “We were settling for jump shots in the first half. We were just a little bit off. Our passes weren’t sharp, and we weren’t getting position on our rebounds.”

In the girls contest, Byng outrebounded fourth-ranked Bethel, 25-16, and stayed close for three quarters, but the fourth-ranked Lady Wildcats used their size and depth to outscore the Lady Pirates, 26-15, in the fourth period en route to a 63-42 victory.

BOYS

Byng 61, Bethel 54

Byng scored 17 of the first 24 points in the second half to take a 46-34 lead with 2:52 left in the third quarter (on Timmons’ second putback of an offensive rebound in the period), and the Wildcats never got closer than six points the rest of the way.

Timmons, a 6-5 sophomore who had only four points and two rebounds at intermission, took control inside in the final two periods and finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead Byng to an eventual 33-31 advantage on the boards. He hit five of his six shots after halftime and was the centerpiece in a Pirate defense that limited Bethel to 8-of-30 shooting in the third and fourth quarters (and 17-of-61 for the game).

Byng started its decisive run innocently enough with a free throw apiece from Preston Petty and Heath Wall, but the Pirates exploded for seven field goals in eight tries in a span of less than four minutes after Wall’s free throw.

Parnacher drove the baseline for three layups — two on assists from Ryan Haynes and the third on an assist from Wall — during the Byng outburst, Timmons added a layup off a Haynes assist in addition to his two putbacks, and Wall drained a 3-pointer from the corner off Haynes’ fourth assist of the period.

Timmons had eight points and five rebounds in the third quarter, while Haynes — a junior point guard whose offense has come to life since Christmas — didn’t take a shot in the period but was the catalyst for Byng’s decisive run and finished the night with 10 points (seven in the first half) on 4-of-5 shooting, seven assists and four rebounds.

Byng still led 51-40 in the final seconds of the third quarter, but Ryan Dowlen slipped down while heading up the floor with a rebound, and Bethel’s Grant Johnson picked up the ball and banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer (his only basket of the game) to trim the lead to eight heading to the fourth.

The Pirates led by 10 points twice in the final period before Bethel sliced the lead to 60-54 on Nate Martin’s 3-pointer with 40 seconds to play before Timmons sank the second of two free throws five seconds later to finally wrap up the victory.

Bethel had eight offensive boards (leading to 11 points) in the opening period, but 3-pointers by Haynes, Parnacher and Petty helped Byng to a 15-13 lead, and the Wildcats needed a 6-0 run early in the second quarter — a spurt that featured a 3-pointer and layup by Dylon Howard — to forge their final tie of the game at 20-all with 6:10 left in the half. Parnacher’s layup 40 seconds later — after an offensive rebound by freshman Dakota Abbott — gave the Pirates the lead for good, although Bethel cut Byng’s eventual six-point advantage to two on a pair of Jace Johnson free throws 36 seconds before the break.

Petty, who had four of Byng six steals in the game, scored 10 points to join Timmons, Haynes and Parnacher (12 points and four rebounds) in double figures, and Wall added nine points, three rebounds and two assists.

Martin (13 points and four rebounds), Howard (12 points) and Jace Johnson (10) were all in double figures for Bethel, but they combined to go just 11-for-33 from the field.

GIRLS

Bethel 63, Byng 42

Bethel’s strengths — size and depth — are the two things the Lady Pirates are lacking after losing four players who were keys to last season’s surprising 23-7 season, but Byng made a game of it for three quarters before wearing down in the fourth.

Kassil Bell, a 5-9 sophomore who went 7-for-7 from the field in the game, had 12 of her 20 points in the first two periods to help Bethel to a 26-18 lead at intermission, and the margin was just six (33-27) after Byng’s Whitney Harris — who had 17 points and seven rebounds in the loss — hit the second of two free throws with 1:16 left in the third quarter.

Bethel scored the final four points of the period, however, on baskets by Bell and Kelli Adams, then hit nine more shots in a row in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter to take a 58-35 lead. Kayla Brown started the decisive run with a 3-pointer (her only shot of the game) with 7:08 left, and the 5-10 Adams and 6-3 Bethel center Jessica Bible — held to a combined 3-of-17 shooting and eight points through three quarters — teamed for 13 points over the next five minutes.

“We played hard and did a good job rebounding, but we just couldn’t score,” Byng coach Joe Neely said after seeing his club go 17-of-40 lose for the 11th time in 15 games following a 3-0 start to the season.

Harris — who was 8-for-11 from the field — and Brittney Lee had seven rebounds apiece (four more than anybody who saw action for Bethel) for Byng, and Lee joined Harris in double figures with 10 points. Brooke Harris, in the midst of a comeback from a serious ankle injury, had six first-half points but didn’t take a shot in the final two periods, while point guard Stacie Bell also had six points but was 0-for-2 and didn’t score in the first three quarters.

Bible (13 points) and Adams (10) joined Bell in double figures for the Lady Wildcats, who were just 12-of-30 from the field before hitting 13 of their last 14 shots (including 11-of-12 in the fourth quarter) to finish 25-for-44. Byng hit a respectable 17-of-40 field goal tries, but other than Whitney Harris and Lee (who teamed to hit 12 of their 21 shots), the Lady Pirates were just 5-for-19.

Byng returns to action Saturday, visiting Madill.