Indians Use Lesher's Offense, Perine's Defense to Go to 7-0 on Year; Ranked No. 8 in MetroNews Poll

By Jeff Toquinto on January 11, 2018 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Bridgeport’s early-season run of perfection is still in place. And they have a fourth quarter offensive explosion and a fourth quarter defensive shutdown to thank for it.
 
The Indians boys’ basketball team moved to 7-0 with 67-58 win over Preston this past Saturday and came back Thursday with a 59-52 road win to topple Grafton in Taylor County. Bridgeport is back in action Friday against North Marion at 7:30 p.m. and then face Nicholas County Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. Both games are at home.
 
BHS also plays West Branch (Ohio) at 1:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Armory Monday. That gives the Indians three games in four days.
 
The early wins have Bridgeport ranked high in the first edition of the MetroNews Boys Basketball Power Index. The rankings, which came out before the Tribe’s win Wednesday, show BHS ranked No. 3 in Class AA behind defending state champion Fairmont Senior and last year’s runner-up  Chapmanville, respectively.
 
Bridgeport is actually ranked No. 8 in the state regardless of class. Parkersburg South is ranked No. 1 in the overall standings, while the Polar Bears are second. University comes in at No. 3. Chapmanville is No. 7 in the overall rankings. (Link to rankings below).
 
“I guess that’s nice, but honestly I don’t look at that. I look at what we do from game to game and from practice to practice to try and get us better,” said BHS Coach Mike Robey. “Rankings and polls aren’t too important to me.”
 
As for the Indians latest action, they had to rally from a halftime deficit to get past the Knights. BHS trailed 25-23 at the intermission before getting the slight upper hand in the third period. Once the final quarter began, BHS was back up 39-36 and an offensive explosion insured that there would be no comeback by the visitors.
 
The Indians pumped out 28 points in the final eight minutes as they were finally able to get a grasp on PHS’s zone defense. Doing most of the solving as Brayden Lesher who scored a game-high 26 points that included four 3-point field goals. The Indians also got 10 points and 10 rebounds from Jake Bowen.
 
“Brayden is always an offensive threat and everyone knows it, but it was really important in this game because Tanner (Bifano) went down with a rolled ankle early so we needed someone to pick up the slack he brings offensively and he did that,” said Robey. “We also needed someone to help out on the glass with Tanner out and Jake Bowen just went inside and was really strong. It was great to see kids stepping up when we needed them to.”
 
Against Grafton, Lesher again led the way with 18 points and Bifano added 11 points after sitting out most of the Preston game with the ankle injury. Bowen added nine points and 10 rebounds. However, it was the individual whose stat line read 1-of-1 from the floor and 0-of-0 from the free throw line for two points that made the difference in the game.
 
In a tightly contested game that saw Bridgeport down 10 points after one period – 21-11 – and then ahead 30-28 at the break, things remained close heading into the final quarter. In fact, Bridgeport led 48-43 and weren’t exactly in a groove.
 
The groove came from the player with two points – Jacob Perine. And it came on the defensive end of the floor.
 
“They were continually beating us off the dribble and causing us all kinds of problem with dribble penetration,” said Robey. “Jacob Perine came in and shut it down completely; he didn’t allow it.
 
“What a job defensively. He didn’t do anything that lit up the offensive stat lines, but he makes an impact on defense that was just as important and turned the game in our favor and he could probably care less if he scored or not,” Robey continued. “That’s exactly the type of kid a coach wants and we have that with Jacob.”
 
Click HERE for the complete MetroNews Power Rankings.
 
Editor's Note: Top photo is of Brayden Lesher, while Jacob Perine is shown below in the Indians' game with Preston. Photos by Joey Signorelii of ww.benqueenphotography.com.


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