Indians take down Seaford at end

You can’t knock the hustle. The Indian River High School Varsity Basketball Team — led by junior guard Brian Bell’s game-high 29 points and game-winning shot — held on to notch a 63-62 victory Dec. 13 over Seaford with only 1.7 seconds remaining on the clock.
Coastal Point • RUSLANA LAMBERT: Junior guard Brian Bell sliced and diced Seaford on Tuesday, Dec. 13, for a game-high 29 points and the game-winner.Coastal Point • RUSLANA LAMBERT:
Junior guard Brian Bell sliced and diced Seaford on Tuesday, Dec. 13, for a game-high 29 points and the game-winner.

Seaford forced a late turnover after a Travis Irving rebound and were able to call a timeout to set up a final play. But it took too long and a C.J. Smith missed shot was waved off.

“That was a long 1.7 seconds,” said exasperated Indian River Head Coach Pat Kelly. “I didn’t even hear the buzzer. I didn’t hear a buzzer all game.”

The Indians held the lead the entire game but the Blue Jays whittled a 14-point third-quarter lead down to a one-point advantage after Anthony Linton sealed two free throws late in the fourth quarter.

Seaford switched from man to zone defense in the second half to slow the Indians’ slashing attack and found success. Indian River was forced to settle for jump shots and didn’t make a basket for 3 minutes and 40 seconds in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Blue Jays to creep ever closer.

“Bell played a great game,” Kelly said. “We tried to spread the court out in the second half and get the ball to him in the center so he could take it to the basket or pass it out. But we ended up settling for jump shots. To our credit Travis (Irving) and Brian (Bell) made two key shots when we had to.”

Through three quarters, Bell was darn near unstoppable. He had 25 of his 29 points on 10-13 shooting from the field, five rebounds, four free-throws and three steals. Bell and company ravaged the Seaford half-court offense by playing the passing lanes and forcing turnovers.

Both teams committed 19 turnovers, but Seaford took advantage of Indian River’s aggressiveness and scored easy backside baskets.

“We should’ve blown them out. But we anticipated the pass too much and they got easy points,” Irving said.

Despite Seaford’s success in the paint, Irving took advantage of their lazy defense and connected with forward Miyo Castro for easy transition baskets. Seven of Irving’s nine assists came on long passes to a heads-up Castro, who finished with 16 points on 8-13 shooting.

“Travis is always looking down-court,” Kelly explained. “Sometimes I tell him he should go out for the football team because he thinks he is Brett Favre andMiyo runs{fast}. It’s good when it works, but we also threw away four or five possessions doing that.”

Irving finished with nine points, six boards and nine assists.

Freshman point guard Tyree Oliver proved he can play at the varsity level and didn’t back down in his starting debut.

“I was a little nervous at first. But I felt I played good once the game got going,” Oliver said. “I just tried to make plays a point guard would make.”

Though he didn’t score, he did finish with three steals, four assists and a scrappy rebound in traffic with two minutes remaining in the game. Oftentimes, Oliver was in the right place at the right time and corralled deflected passes off teammates to maintain possession.

Overall, it was a great team win for the Indians, who were without guard Curtis Chandler due to an ejection in the 80-71 conference loss to Smyrna on Dec. 6.

“The win feels real real good. I’m just so happy, words can’t even describe it,” said Bell. “We’re focused on winning the South.”

Bell has had a turbulent road to this point and, like his team, looks to turn the corner this season. After picking up two quick fouls in the first few minutes of the game, Kelly was forced to pull his leading scorer briefly. But Bell returned even stronger. He maintained his composure and made a critical timeout in the fourth quarter as he was falling out of bounds, to maintain possession.

“We really rode Brian a long time,” Kelly said of Bell’s foul trouble. “We had to pull him about two minutes into the game and 1:20 left in the half.”

Bell said he realizes now that complaining doesn’t make anything better and that focus is needed if they are going to compete for the south this year. His coach agrees.

“You can’t fight the referees and play your opponents. You have to keep your head in the game and stay under control,” Bell said.

“Brian has been great, all he has to do now is keep his grades up and his teachers are working with him,” Kelly said. “The staff here is great, that they’re willing to work with the kids that are trying to stay out of negative situations.”

The Indians’ win over Seaford evens their regular-season and conference records to 1-1, heading into another conference match-up at Woodbridge on Dec. 16. Indian River will play non-conference Nandua at home on Dec. 20 before heading into a Christmas tournament in Salisbury on Dec. 29 and 30.