By Scott Halasz
BEAVERCREEK — They started five players because the rules said they had to.
But the Alter Knights really needed just two players to beat Beavercreek Monday night inside the Ed Zink Fieldhouse.
Libby Bazelak scored 17 points and Braxtin Miller added eight as the two-time defending Division-II state champs beat the Beavers, 53-28. Olivia Gillis added 10 for the 7-2 Knights, who have been to three straight D-II title games.
Keaira Youngblood scored a game-high 11 points for the 8-3 Beavers, who struggled to score because of what has become a recurring theme: Missed layups.
The Beavers left 24 points on the court via close-in misses and gave up a few more points on turnovers.
“We don’t finish,” Coach Ed Zink said. “This group, I thought we would better offensively than we are. Against aggressive defenses we’re still just not very good offensively.”
Unofficially Beavercreek had 16 turnovers, mostly while running the half-court offense.
“We throw lazy passes, we don’t meet the ball,” Zink said. “Credit their defense. They get after you. They never let you feel comfortable.”
Actually, the Beavers felt pretty good at halftime. Despite nine missed layups and five turnovers, they trailed just 26-18 and at one point were down only 19-14 after a Youngblood 3-pointer with 5:35 left.
“We thought with how poorly we shot it in the first half … we’re not in bad shape,” Zink said.
But Gillis scored on the Knight’s first second-half possession and then the Beavers missed a layup and had another short shot blocked, leading to four more Alter points and a 32-18 lead with 6:43 left in the third. The Knights led 40-20 two minutes later and held the Beavers to just 10 second-half points.
Alter’s super duo, which has accounted for more than half the Knights’ points this season, had the Beavers outscored until ‘Creek scored five points in the game’s final 5:29. Even those points didn’t come easy as three came on a banked 3-point shot and the other two after an Alter turnover with the subs in.
“They schooled us tonight,” Zink said.
The Beavers host Fairmont Wednesday and visit Carroll Monday, Jan. 9. Alter is at Fenwick Wednesday and hosts Carroll Saturday, Jan. 7.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.