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APPLE CREEK -- After spotting the visiting Knights of West Holmes a deuce in the first half, the Golden Bears played the third quarter with a purpose, opening up double-digit lead en route to a 71-64 triumph in a non-conference clash at Waynedale.
Colten Purdy drilled a triple to start the third-quarter comeback for the Bears, igniting an 11-2 run that turned a 34-32 halftime deficit into a 43-36 lead, as the 1-16 Knights gave away another one.
West Holmes exacerbated the problem by coughing the ball up three straight trips down the floor.
"We talked about it at halftime how we needed to have a good third quarter," beleaguered West Holmes coach Keith Troyer said. "They outplayed us in the third quarter, and that was the game.
"We can't have that, especially when we're struggling like we are," Troyer added."We have to do the little things right, and until we do that, this is going to be the end result."
Adam Mullet (13 points and six rebounds) scored inside and Stephen Spidell scored a couple buckets inside as well, tallying six of his 10 points in the third quarter.
Four different Bears scored double figures, led by Derek Reber's 25 points. The lanky sophomore hit a three-point play that resulted in a technical foul on the Knights, leading to a pair of free throws for Purdy (13 points) and a 53-38 advantage late in the third quarter.
"He's a good shooter, and can handle the ball. He's a smart player," Troyer said of Reber. "He's a tough match-up for our smaller guards. He had a good game for them."
Waynedale coach Kevin Stacy agreed.
"He's been fantastic," Stacy said. "He's been a mainstay for us. He's just a sophomore. We're still working with him on some of the turnovers, but he's there, giving the effort. He's a stat producer. We really count on him to do a lot for us."
The first-coach says his troops played more organized in the second half, cutting down on the turnovers and making sure the team got great looks.
"We're still a work in progress, but we're definitely on the up and up," Stacy said. "We've been using that us against the world mentality as motivation. And we've got all 15 varsity guys buying in right now.
"We have seven seniors, and the guys on the bench are always helping out," the coach continued. "They have been the emotional leaders for us in practice and late in games."
The Knights picked up the pressure in the final frame, but the 9-7 Bears were able to fend off the pesky visitors by making key shoots down the stretch.
The Knights were paced by 20 points from Chase Wells and 14 from freshman Chance Wells. Blaine Hager chipped in a dozen.
"They took care of the ball, rebounded and did the things they were supposed to do on the floor, and we didn't," Troyer said. "They did a nice job keeping plays alive on the offensive end. We kept giving them extra possessions."
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or email@example.com.