By Matthew VanTryon Flyer Correspondent
Hendricks County Flyer
---- — BROWNSBURG — The Bethesda Patriots boys’ basketball team hosted Indianapolis Metropolitan on Saturday evening in a back-and-forth contest that saw the Patriots with a chance to win late. But, Bethesda came up short, falling 57-52.
Bethesda’s Jake Mlagan scored a game-high 23 points in the losing effort, while teammate Aaron Hampton added 14 points.
Bethesda coach Justin Cook said a lack of focus hurt the Patriots, especially in the third quarter.
“All four quarters, (Metro) used the same type of pressure defenses,” Cook said. “The first, second and fourth quarters it didn’t hurt us. The third quarter it did. We’ve got to be more disciplined, we’ve got to be more focused and execute our fundamentals.”
Bethesda struggled offensively in the opening quarter, as it had trouble controlling the ball. The Patriots committed five turnovers in the first period and eight in the opening half.
Mlagan scored six of his team’s eight first quarter points, and tallied 12 in the half to go along seven rebounds. Bethesda trailed for much of the first half, but a Mlagan bucket gave the home team an 18-17 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter.
A strong defensive effort by Bethesda resulted in a 23-17 lead at the break.
The Pumas struggled in the second period, scoring only three field goals, and failed to score a field goal after falling behind. Bethesda outscored Metro 15-7 in the second quarter.
Bethesda continued to control the game defensively at the beginning of the second half, and Metro failed to convert a field goal until just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Cook gave his team credit for their intensity during that period.
“I think our guys took personal responsibility to stop the drive,” said Cook.
However, the field goal sparked the visitors. Bethesda turned the ball over seven times in the third quarter, and was outscored 20-8 in the period. A six-point halftime lead for the Patriots turned into a six-point deficit going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter went back-and-forth, as Bethesda cut the deficit to one early in the period. Foul trouble plagued the home team, as the Pumas were in the bonus with over six minutes to go. However, the Patriots found themselves in the double-bonus with just under three minutes to play.
Bethesda managed to keep it close, but could never gain momentum. Sophomore Josh Stroud hit back-to-back three-point shots to get the Patriots within four with under a minute to play, but the visitors were able to ice the game at the charity stripe.
Metro coach Richard Bishop attributed defense to the win.
“We were able to pick up the tempo of the game with our defense, our defense turned into offense,” Bishop said. “That was pretty much the difference in the runs that we were able to make.”
Cook was encouraged by his team’s effort. Bethesda was missing two starters, one to injury and one to travel.
“I think it says volumes to the growth we’ve had,” Cook said. “To have two guys step up the way they did is really big.”
Bethesda will have the holiday break off, and will host Horizon Christian on Jan. 3.