Penns Valley’s Andrew Tobias had just buried a 3-pointer to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter, and it looked like the Rams were ready to roll.
Bellefonte, and Cade Fortney, had other ideas.
The junior guard kept slashing to the basket, scoring 10 of his game-high 14 points in the final 5:23 to lead the Red Raiders past their rivals 34-29 Thursday night.
“I was just thinking to go out there and play my hardest,” said Fortney, who also pulled down eight rebounds to go with four steals. “That’s what I kind of do every game, give it my all and whatever happens, happens.”
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Ben McCartney added six points for Bellefonte (6-8), Caleb Rockey grabbed seven rebounds, and Tyler Kreger also had four steals.
Tobias’ 13 points and eight rebounds paced the Rams (7-7), Keith Butts added seven points, and Luke Snyder snared six rebounds and blocked three shots.
Down 23-18 to start the fourth quarter, Penns Valley, led by Tobias, went on a run. A steal turned into a layup to start the quarter, and Butts followed with another steal and layup seconds later.
After a Fortney layup, Tobias answered with a drive along the baseline for a basket. After Fortney again drove in for a bucket, Tobias had yet another response, drilling a 3-pointer at the top of the key to knot the game at 27-27 with 3:54 left. Tobias pumped both arms in celebration after the trey as the Penns Valley cheering section erupted.
“I like the way we came back in the fourth,” Rams coach Terry Glunt said. “Andrew Tobias just really got after it, made some tough shots.”
However, the Rams made just one more basket the rest of the game.
“I wasn’t enamored with our shot selection, but that’s on me,” Terry Glunt said.
Meanwhile, Fortney kept driving the lane, giving the Raiders the lead for good with two more layups, the second also drawing a foul for a three-point play.
“Cade was incredible tonight, attacking the basket and finishing at the rim,” Bellefonte coach Kris Glunt said. “That’s the role that we’ve carved out for him and he’s really come on the last couple weeks.”
“He was the kid that we didn’t have the answer for tonight,” Terry Glunt said.
After a slow-paced first half, with Penns Valley leading just 16-12 at halftime, and stretching to its largest lead of six points with a Tobias layup just seven seconds into the second half, the Rams went ice cold, not scoring for the next nine-plus minutes.
“We challenged the guys at the half,” Kris Glunt said. “We really tried to turn up the tempo defensively. Penns Valley does a great job of controlling the tempo and we tried to challenge our guys to turn it up a little bit, play a little faster pace.”
The 18-12 deficit early in the third turned into a 23-18 Raider lead by the start of the fourth.
Penns Valley committed 18 turnovers, and 13 of them came from Bellefonte steals.
“We knew we wanted to give them some pressure there,” Fortney said. “We know we’ve got some good defenders on their team. Coach asked us if we wanted to play zone or man (defense) and we trust our guys, trust each other, and we decided to go man and put some pressure on them.”
Terry Glunt was frustrated by the pile of turnovers.
“It’s something that we’ve preached throughout my career,” said Terry Glunt, who has 204 wins to his credit. “Treating (the ball) like gold and understanding the value of that possession. Sometimes when the game speeds up, kids are making decisions on the fly and that sort of goes out the window.”