Bulldogs Boys Basketball ​Top Pirates in Conference Opener

By; Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The Chelsea Bulldogs Boys basketball team, 1-0 (1-0), defeated the Pinckney Pirates, 1-3 (0-1), 54-49 in the SEC White conference opener for both teams. 

For the Bulldogs, their late start to the season comes off the heels of the title run for the football team in the fall, eight players on that team play on the basketball team. Bulldog head coach Josh Tropea emphasized quick rotations early in the season to keep the team fresh. 

The Pirates staged two runs in the second half but couldn’t come out on top against a hot shooting Bulldog team. 

First quarter

In the first quarter, the Bulldogs started out hot, hitting four three pointers in route to a 18-8 lead. 

For the Pirates, four points were from senior forward Brennen Killom, who established good post position inside to get his buckets. 

“I thought we would (come out strong) with the crowd,” said Tropea. “Even though we’ve only been together 12 days, they want to play, they’re kids. They’re amped up. You saw us hit a wall second quarter because that adrenaline wears off, your legs have to get under you. I should have subbed more.”

Second quarter 

In the second quarter the Pirate offense and defense found their footing, they had more success in getting to the line and a high-pressure man to man defense cooled down the Bulldog shooting. 

They held the Bulldogs to single digits in the second and third quarter, allowing their offense a chance to get them back in the game. 

A 7-2 Pirate run capped off by a bucket from junior guard Joe Bona  to start the quarter forced a Bulldog timeout, as they cut the Bulldog lead to 19-15. 

“We said, ‘guys, you have to match their fight,’” said Pirate head coach Tom Reason. “First quarter I don’t think we did. Rest of the game? I think we outfought them, I do. Against a team this athletic, we knew they would shoot well, we can’t turn the ball over. I bet we were at 20. In a possession game like that, scores in the fifties, there’s 60-70 possessions. We turn it over 20 of them? If we can just shoot those 6-8 times, a whole different ballgame.”

Pirate sophomore guard Luke Lovell had four points in the quarter, each basket coming at a key time. He ended the game with a team high 14 points. In his second game on Varsity, Pirate head coach Tom Reason was impressed. 

“He’s a scorer, has a pure scorer,” said Reason of Lovell. “Very crafty with the ball, a really good shooter.”

For the Bulldogs at halftime, Tropea said they talked about turnovers and playing with more composure on offense. 

Third quarter

In the third quarter, the Pirates came out strong once again, a 7-0  run forcing a timeout from the Bulldogs with 2:55 in the quarter, tied at 33. 

It started with Pirate junior point guard Dylan Reason driving to lane for a bucket, then Lovell hit a corner three. The Bulldogs switched to a zone defense, but Reason drove once again for a layup forcing the timeout at 2:55. 

“I thought Pinckney did a great job of adjusting to our zone,” said Tropea. “Lovell had  great third, they made some good adjustments, that hurt us. It came down to us getting stops and free throws down the stretch and we were able to do that.”

After that, however, the Bulldogs ended the quarter on an 8-0 run with six coming from senior guard Quinn Starkey. The last three being on a perfectly drawn up play right before the buzzer for the 41-33 lead. 

That last three, their big guy wants to screen for (Quinn) Starkey, and we knew he could shoot,” said Reason. We came off him, we double (Neff) with three seconds to go to leave the shooter wide open, that’s a mental breakdown.”

“As a team, we were shooting with tired legs,” said Tropea. “Only two threes in the second half and one was Starkey to end the quarter and it was a huge shot. We needed that heading into the fourth.”

Fourth quarter

In the fourth quarter, the Pirates started strong once again. It was the Pirates going on an 8-1 to start the quarter to bring them within one, 42-41. 

From there, Hauser had an answer for the Bulldogs every time they needed a bucket. He had three buckets come on the heels of a Pirate bucket, making sure the Bulldogs stayed on top. He finished with a team high 18 points. 

“We were getting stops on defense (as the half went on),” said Hauser. “That gave me the energy to make it happen.” 

“I texted Adam (Hauser) last night and I said ‘it’s gonna be your coming out party tomorrow,’” said Tropea. “He had an unbelievable summer, played high level AAU, played great for us in the summer. An unknown as a sophomore on varsity who didn’t play a lot. He’s capable of getting 20 every night. I think you’ll see this type of stuff on a regular basis. He’s a special player. He’s a matchup nightmare.”

With 24.5 seconds left, and the Bulldogs leading 52-47, Reason found senior guard Nick Hayes for an alley oop lay in to make it 52-49. 

A Pinckney turnover with 13 seconds left would seal the game, ending it at 54-49. 

“The name of the game tonight was turnovers and Chelsea shooting the ball,” said Reason after the game. “All that being said hats off to Chelsea they were good tonight, very very good tonight

“This is the best we’ve looked,” added Reason. “We play like this, this is the only we lose to, and we’re 1-3. We play like this and we can compete with anyone in league. That’s an athletic, good team, they’ll be better too.” 

The game was also the first back for Tropea, who returns after a two-year stint at Spring Arbor, how did being back on the sidelines at Chelsea feel? 

“It felt great,” said Tropea with a big grin.

Photos by Lynne Beauchamp

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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