DECATUR — The Bellmont Braves snuck by Columbia City 36-35 in the Northeast 8 Conference opener for both squads on Saturday night at the Teepee.
The two teams had also not played played a game since Dec. 29 due to various quarantining issues, and that was apparent as both teams struggled offensively in the first half.
The Braves got out to a 6-0 lead over the Eagles who did not get their first score until halfway through the quarter when Mason Baker hit a jumper from the right elbow.
Jaxon Crawford had the other Columbia City bucket in the first quarter with put back underneath.
Bellmont got two baskets from Caden Staub and a score each from Tyler James and Isaiah Wellman in the quarter to take an 8-4 lead to the second quarter.
The second quarter was another slow quarter offensively for both teams, although the physicality picked up as well.
James got the Braves on the board to begin the quarter but the Baker countered with a shot in the lane to keep the Eagles within four points.
Columbia City’s other points came on two buckets from sophomore Andrew Hedrick in the quarter.
John Ulman picked up two free throws for the home team and a field goal from Caden Staub to finished off the Braves’ scoring in the half.
The teams went to the intermission with Bellmont leading 14-10.
Columbia City got the better of the Braves in the third quarter, outscoring them 15-9.
Baker got fouled on a 3-point shot and made all three free throws, along with three buckets by Hedrick and two 3-pointers by senior Brooks Longenbaugh, the latter of which gave the Eagles their first lead of the game with 1:50 to go in the third quarter.
Wellman led the Braves with five points in the quarter, including a three-point play. Bellmont also got field goals from James and Ulman to account for the rest of the scoring for the home team in the third quarter.
Columbia City took a 25-23 lead to the fourth quarter.
Bellmont outscored Columbia City in the final quarter 13-10 to earn the win.
The Braves made their only 3-pointers of the game in the fourth quarter with James and Staub connecting from downtown. James and Wellman had two point goals as well.
Baker had a bucket and Hedrick had eight points in the quarter on a three-point play, a 3-point shot and a jumper in the lane for two points.
The Eagles trailed late and were forced to foul, and Nic Ellsworth iced the game going one of two at the free throw line on the last two possessions for the Braves.
Hedrick launched the ball from three-quarters downcourt at the buzzer but the shot fell short and Bellmont held on for the 36-35 win.
Columbia City shot 14 of 39 from the field on the night for 35% and Bellmont was 14 of 38 from the floor on the game for 36%.
Columbia City had 15 turnovers for the game and Bellmont had 12.
Hedrick led all scorers with 18 points and Baker had nine points for Columbia City.
James led the Braves with 12 points and Wellman had nine points.
Columbia City’s record drops to 3-6 overall and 0-1 in the NE8. Bellmont improves to 4-3 overall and 1-0 in the NE8.
Columbia City’s junior varsity fell to Bellmont, 45-26.
Evan Cearbaugh had six points to lead the Eagles. Brady Hartman had five points and Ethan Sievers chipped in four points.