BELLBROOK — Basketball isn’t supposed to be a game of inches.
But on Jan. 20 at Bellbrook High School it was — about two inches specifically.
That’s how far Bellbrook’s Cassidy Hofacker stepped onto the three-point line as she slithered by a defender and lofted a game-tying heave at the buzzer against Centerville. Originally signaled as an overtime-clinching three, the side referee overruled the call, making it a two-pointer and a stinging 55-54 loss to the streaking Elks.
A video review in the coaches office showed it was the right call, but that didn’t take the disappointment away.
“(The referee) said ‘I saw it clear as day,’ ” Bellbrook Coach Jason Tincher said. “Two girls converged on her. The ball kind of got a little bit out of sync. I think she knew she was around the area of the three. We’ve had a couple of those this year. It’s getting old real quick.”
Bellbrook lost by one point to Valley View, Jan. 11, on a shot at the buzzer that was called good even though it reportedly should have been waved off.
Hofacker finished with 17 points, while Brooklynn Hall had 11 and Olivia Greathouse 10. Emma Stanley scored 11 — all in the first half — and Amy Velasco added 10 for the Elks.
That the Golden Eagles (8-6) even had a shot to tie the game is a feat in itself. Bellbrook trailed the entire game and was down as many as 13 — 28-15 with 3:42 left in the first half — before mounting a second-half comeback.
Trailing 31-22 at halftime and 33-22 seconds into the third quarter, the Golden Eagles went on an 8-0 run — that included a traditional three-point play by Hofacker, a drive and score by Greathouse and a three-pointer by Hall — to cut the score to 33-30 with 5:10 left.
Centerville (10-6) then outscored Bellbrook 12-5 during the next four minutes to seize a 45-35 lead. Velasco and Alexis Hutchison each had three-point baskets during the stretch, which also included a nice fast break started after a Jasmine Broner rebound and outlet pass to Hutchison, who then made a perfect pass to Sam Chable for a layup.
Bekah Vine made a three-pointer and Greathouse a bucket off a great pass from Hofacker to keep Bellbrook close, 47-40, after three quarters.
“We were bending, but not breaking,” Tincher said. “ (At halftime) we talked about how we’re only down nine.”
Greathouse scored to open the fourth and then Hall nailed a corner three-pointer to make the score 47-45 with 6:26 left. The Elks scored four straight on buckets by Chable and Velasco, but Dani Westbrock and Maren Freudenschuss combined to make five of six from the line to cut it to 51-50 with 2:09 left.
Meghan Mattingly scored for Centerville off a nice curl play with 1:55 left to set up the frenetic final minutes. The teams traded turnovers and then GiGi Painter was fouled as she rebounded a Hofacker miss. She made both free throws to cut the score to 53-52 with 1:22 left.
The Elks ran time off the clock and were close to a five-second dribbling violation several times before taking a timeout with 29.6 seconds left. After taking a pair of timeouts, because they couldn’t get the ball inbounded, the Elks were finally successful and Chable was fouled and made both free throws for a 55-52 lead with 19.2 seconds left.
After a Bellbrook miss, Chable was fouled on a rebound attempt, but she missed the first of a one-and-one, setting up Hofacker’s final shot.
“We had our chances,” Tincher said. “Give Centerville credit, too. They’re a nice basketball team.”
The teams combined to shoot 43 free throws in what was a foul fest at times. The Elks had three players pick up two fouls in the first quarter and a total of three players fouled out for both teams later in the game. Tincher wouldn’t comment on the amount of whistle blowing. He did give his team credit for its effort.
“That’s what I’m most proud of,” he said. “They’re going through some adversity. They’re trying to do everything we’re asking them to do.”
Bellbrook hosted Beavercreek on Jan. 22. Centerville next hosts Northmont, Wednesday, Jan. 24.