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Saturday, December 4th, 2010
By Ryan Hines
Bulldogs start the season with a victory
CELINA - Chris Bihn is in his sixth season as head coach of the Celina boys basketball team and he can't seem to remember the last time that the Bulldogs started the season 1-0.
Bihn's Bulldogs did just that on Friday night as Celina climbed out of an early hole to knock off Bellefontaine 52-41 in the season opener at the Fieldhouse.
Lima Senior has dealt Celina (1-0) season-opening defeats in recent memory, but Bellefontaine (0-1) replaced Toledo Rogers on the Bulldogs' schedule this year and got slotted in the first game ahead of the Spartans. Celina travels to play Lima Senior tonight.
"I honestly can't remember the last time that we have been 1-0 here. I don't think it has happened since I've been here," said Bihn. "We set a goal to finish undefeated on our home floor and you can't do that without winning the first one, so it's a big win for us. It's nice to be 1-0 for a change. It wasn't always pretty, but we'll take it."
It certainly wasn't an easy win for the Bulldogs as Bellefontaine's athletic ability helped the Chieftains get off to a good start.
Celina jumped in front 6-2 after back-to-back baskets by Greg Riemesch, but the Bulldogs then had just one more point over the final 4:23 of the first quarter. Bellefontaine scored the final eight points of the first quarter and held a 12-7 advantage after the first eight minutes of action.
The Bulldogs were sluggish through the first half of play and shot just 6-of-18 from the field, despite some easy looks at the basket. Celina's cold shooting allowed Bellefontaine to hang right with the Bulldogs and the Chieftains' Josh Jones made sure that his team went into halftime with the lead. Jones, who led all scorers in the game with 18 points, had eight points in the first half and the Chieftains led 23-20 at halftime.
Bellefontaine starters Michael Bean and Preaston Artis each picked up their fourth fouls early in the third quarter and Celina began to rally.
Nate Bihn made a nice move in the post for a bucket to tie the score at 25-25 at the 4:50 mark of the third quarter and then Mitchell Ross hit three-of-four from the free-throw line to put Celina on top 28-25.
Bellefontaine got back-to-back baskets to regain the lead at 29-28, but Bihn converted a three-point play and Kahl Knapke made a steal on the defensive end of the floor and went coast-to-coast for a contested layup to put the Bulldogs in front 33-29.
Celina pushed its lead to 39-31 midway through the fourth quarter when Bellefontaine went scoreless for a three-minute stretch.
Bellefontaine got as close as six points with just over four minutes to play in the game, but Celina converted enough free throws down the stretch for the double-digit victory.
"I'm not sure there was a turning point in tonight's game, but if there is one, it must have been in the third quarter when we got into some serious foul trouble or early in the fourth quarter when we had trouble scoring," said Bellefontaine head coach Henry Stolly, brother of Celina assistant coach Doug Stolly.
Celina shot just 38 percent from the floor (16-of-42), including one-for-seven from three-point territory, but won the game on the defensive end of the floor. The Bulldogs limited the Chieftains to just 14-of-43 shooting for the game (33 percent) and 2-of-13 on three-pointers.
"I thought that we played pretty well defensively, especially in the second half when we forced them into some tougher shots," said Bihn. "I thought our depth and pressure on defense wore them down a little bit in the second half."
Despite the offensive struggles, Celina still had three players in double figures. Ross came off the Celina bench for a team-high 12 points while Bihn and John Homan contributed 11 and 10 points.
"We had some good looks at the basket, some bunnies, that just rolled off the rim for us," said Bihn. "We need to finish off those plays. I thought we executed pretty well, but just didn't finish. That will come."
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