By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
In a pair of home games against Harbor Light Middle School of Bandon, the Azalea Middle School seventh and eighth grade boys' basketball teams were able to pull out wins over the Panthers Wednesday evening.
Seventh-graders edge Panthers 39-36
Despite being riddled with illness and injury, the seventh grade team was able to grind out a 39-36 win over the Panthers.
With several starters seeing limited playing time because of sickness and injuries, the Bruin reserves did an excellent job filling in and bringing intensity to the floor.
The Bruins were able to survive the physicality of the game, which saw the Panthers called for 23 fouls, including two flagrant fouls in the fourth quarter.
After the first period ended in a 16-16 tie, the Panthers took control in the second quarter and held a slim 27-24 lead at the half.
Both teams picked up their defense in the second half, but Bandon still held a four-point lead (33-29) at the end of the third quarter.
The Bruins turned up the pressure in the fourth quarter as they used a full-court press to aggravate the Panthers.
With just three minutes left to play, Cole Hannan gave the Bruins the lead for good as he penetrated the lane and converted a layup to put the Bruins up 36-35.
For the final three minutes, the Bruins continually hounded the Panthers in the backcourt and shut down their offense to hold on for the win.
Andrew Bilyeu led the Bruins with 14 points while Darrell Hopper added nine and Cade Freels chipped in eight.
Also getting in on the scoring was Hannan with three, Brad Austin and Rick Kreger, who had two points apiece and Nate Orman added one.
Sean Graham, Tyree Dingle and Zach Konkel also gave the Bruins quality minutes and played solid defense.
Eighth-graders top Bandon 66-51
In a bizarre game filled with technical and intentional fouls, the Bruins were able to use a 19-point fourth quarter to pull away from the Panthers in a 66-51 victory.
Six different players scored in the first quarter as the Bruins erupted for 23 points and held a 23-6 advantage after the first eight minutes of play.
But the Panthers gradually closed the gap in the second and third quarters and used a 10-0 run in the third to cut the lead seven points.
However, the Bruins were able to regain their composure in the fourth quarter as they outscored the Panthers 19-15 to hold on for the win.
The eighth-graders, much like the seventh grade team, were also missing a few key players.
Alex Pate dominated the inside for the Bruins as he notched a game-high 19 points.
Tyler Wood was knocking down shots from all over the floor as he also poured in 18 points for the Bruins.
Andrew Tygart also reached double-figures with 10 points while Tim Drafahl added eight, Nick Corpening chipped in five, Pete Peterson added four and Thomas Spratt had two.
After away games at North Bend and Myrtle Point, the Bruins will be back at home on Thursday, Feb. 28. The seventh grade game begins at 4 p.m., followed by the eighth-graders at 5:30 p.m.