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Pirate hoopsters rally past Lyle

BICKLETON - After giving up an NBA-like 24 points to Lyle in the first quarter, Bickleton's boys basketball team needed to find an answer.

"We just can't give up that many points and expect to win the game," Coach Ben McBride told his team before the second quarter of Thursday's league contest.

Answer?

A smothering man-to-man defense that held Lyle to 32 points the rest of the way, and sparked the Pirates to a 58-56 win.

Lyle jumped out to a double-digit lead in the opening quarter, paced by four three-pointers by Martin Grace.

Bickleton rallied and trimmed the deficit to 24-20 heading into the second stanza.

Grace, held to two points the rest of the way, and the rest of Lyle's red-hot offense cooled from there.

"We picked up the defense and we shut them down," McBride said.

Bickleton's big stopper was Ryan Bravo, who picked up four steals against Lyle to go with 11 points and four rebounds.

"Ryan had one of his best games. He provided a lot of intensity," McBride said of Bravo's bravado on defense. The coach noted, though, that the tough "D" was a team effort.

Lyle still managed to score 14 points in the second and built its lead back up to seven, 38-31, by halftime.

"Going into the half, we felt pretty good," McBride recalled. "Lyle's offense was having a hard time getting going."

But Bickleton's defense was just getting warmed up, limiting Lyle to just 18 second half points.

"Our defense was the telling point in the game," McBride said. "There were a lot of individuals, the whole team, who did an excellent job of getting out on the three, then stopping penetration to the basket."

Bickleton grabbed its first lead of the game midway through the fourth quarter, and Alex Whitmore made it stand up for good by nailing a clutch trey with two minutes to play.

Lyle pulled within two and had a chance to tie with 30 seconds left. That shot went awry, and the Pirates held on for their first league win.

"We've had a lot of close games this year. It was nice to be on the winning side of a two-point game," McBride said.

Playing what McBride termed "his best game offensively and defensively," Tyler Jensen led the Pirates with 16 points.

Eric Hess recorded his second consecutive double-double, with 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Cody Loomis added 14 points for Bickleton.

The win over Lyle was key, McBride noted, since it represents a Southern Division victory.

Bickleton (1-2, 3-6) travels to Klickitat today (Friday) for another key Southern Division match-up.

"We'll have our work cut out for us," McBride said of Klickitat's J.J. Keys who averages about 30 points a game.

"He (Keys) is a tough guy, but I'm thinking our experience in stopping Lyle will help our confidence."

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