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Byrd II the word in Bethel win

Mark Schnabel
mschnabel@thekansan.com
Bethel junior Clifford Byrd II scored 24 points with five steals in a 90-78 win over Ottawa on Saturday at Thresher Gym. The win was Bethel's sixth straight.

The Bethel College men’s basketball team has almost an unfair advantage during these uncertain times, getting most of their games in while its opponents have had to endure long layoffs.

That held true Saturday in a 90-78 win over Ottawa in KCAC play at Thresher Gym.

Bethel wins its sixth straight, improving to 7-3, 7-2 in KCAC play. The Threshers have avoided any long COVID-19 related layoffs.

The game was just the fourth for the 2-2 Braves, 0-2 in KCAC play. Ottawa was off for 33 days after its first two games, dropping its second straight.

Clifford Byrd II led the Threshers 24 points with six rebounds. Byrd II scored the first seven points of the second half to put the Threshers in control.

“I guess the game plan was get more stops than we did in the first half,” Byrd II said. “We came out a little unsure of them, but played really well in the second half. I feel like we don’t care about rankings. We want to stop the best man on the team. Hopefully, the coach will take it a little easy on us, but the legs are fine.”

“That was the big run for us,” Bethel coach Jayson Artaz said. “We had basically played even to that point. We got everybody excited and everybody going. Cliff’s been really good the last couple of games. He played relaxed more than he was earlier in the season He had five steal again tonight. The last three games, he’s had something like five steals, which is an insane number to do that, so Cliff’s instincts are really good right now.”

Jordan Neely came off the bench to score 17 points. Bryant Mocaby scored 14. Jalyn Todd scored 10 points.

For the third straight game, Jaylon Scott was held to single digits scoring at eight points on two of 11 shooting, but still contributed with 13 rebounds and seven assists.

“Early in the season, we knew (Neely) would be our shooter,” Artaz said. “He didn’t shoot great the first couple of games, but he worked his tail off. In the gym, he’s the one guy who no matter when you’re there, he’s in there getting his shots off. He works really hard at it.”

Ottawa was led by Perry Carroll with 27 points on 10 of 17 shooting. Joe Johnson III scored 12 points. Jaquan Daniels and Ian Moore each added 11 points.

“That’s a really good basketball team over there and they’ve been practicing and playing a lot more than we have,” Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall said. “They’re a lot sharper and in better shape than we are. Our conditioning isn’t where we want to be, because we can’t replicate games. We need to sustain some of those runs. Our guys played really hard when they were out there.”

The biggest lead in the game for either team in the first half was six points. Bethel held that lead late in the half, but Ottawa cut it to two at intermission 42-40.

Bethel opened the second half with seven straight points by Byrd II. A Jordan Neely pull-up jumper for three put the Threshers up by 14 with 12:06 in regulation. A pair of Scott free throws put Bethel up 15 with 8:52 to play.

Ottawa drew as close as eight with 6:57 to play. Bethel quickly got back out by 13. Neely buried a three on a pass from Byrd II to put Bethel 15. Ottawa was hit by a personal foul and a technical foul on its following possession and Neely hit two free throws.

The Braves rallied with a three-point play by and a 3-point shot, both by Carroll.

Bethel returns to play at 6 p.m. Monday at Friends. The Falcons are 2-5, 2-2 in the KCAC, after a 91-81 win over McPherson Saturday in Wichita.

“I feel like we’ve had a pre-game practice for a week now,” Artaz said. “This will be our fourth game in seven days — Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Monday again. It’s been a lot of quick turnarounds. Friends is good. They just beat Ottawa. Friends always plays hard. They play physical. Coach (Dale) Faber always has them ready.”

Ottawa plays at 7 p.m. Monday at Kansas Wesleyan. The Coyotes are 3-4, 1-2 in KCAC play, but haven’t played since Nov. 17.

Bethel men 90, Ottawa 78

OTTAWA (2-2, 0-2 KCAC) — Mason McDow 2-9 0-1 6, Jackson Mallory 3-5 0-0 7, Trevor Ballou 0-0 0-0 0, Joe Johnson III 4-7 4-4 12, Jaquan Daniels 4-10 3-5 11, Andre Jackson 1-6 0-2 2, Perry Carroll 10-17 3-3 27, Ian Moore 4-6 0-0 11, Triston Turner 1-2 0-0 2. TOTALS 29-62 10-15 78.

BETHEL (7-3, 7-2 KCAC) — Tavaughn Flowers 3-8 2-4 9, Jordan Neely 3-7 8-8 17, Clifford Byrd II 9-17 4-4 24, Jalyn Todd 5-6 0-0 10, Jaylon Scott 2-11 4-4 8, Nick Bonner 0-1 0-0 0, Bryant Mocaby 3-10 6-6 14, Harper Jonas 1-1 4-6 6, Adam Gouro 1-5 0-0 2. TOTALS 27-66 28-32 90.

Ottawa;40;38;—;78

Bethel;42;48;—;90

Total fouls — OU 25, BC 23. Technical fouls — OU: Mallory :00-1h, Jackson 9:07-2h, Moore 3:25-2h. BC: Flowers :00-1h, B.Mocaby 9:07-2h, Byrd II 7:24-2h. Fouled out — OU: Moore 3:25-2h, Jackson :43.9-2h. 3-point shooting — OU 10-29 (McDow 2-6, Mallory 1-3, Johnson III 0-3, Daniels 0-3, Jackson 0-2, Carroll 4-8, Moore 3-4), BC 8-27 (Flowers 1-3, Neely 3-7, Byrd II 2-7, Todd 0-1, Scott 0-2, Bonner 0-1, Mocaby 2-6). Rebounds — OU 35 (Mallory 9), BC 42 (Scott 13). Assists — OU 15 (Mallory 5), BC 15 (Scott 7). Turnovers — OU 21 (Johnson III 4), BC 15 (Scott 5, Gouro 5). Blocked shots — OU 2 (McDow 2), BC 2 (Byrd II 1, Todd 1). Steals — OU 4 (Daniels 2), BC 11 (Byrd II 5).

Bethel freshman Nick Bonner guards Ottawa senior Joe Johnson III during play Saturday at Thresher Gym.