The Braves got solid games from their underclassmen.
By DOUG CHAPIN
HUBBARD -- Dominated by experienced seniors, one would expect the Badger High basketball team to be able to rally from an early deficit.
The Braves did just that Friday, but a couple of underclassmen played key roles in Badger's 76-66 Trumbull Athletic Conference victory.
Hubbard's Anthony Smith scored the first nine points of the game in a little more than two minutes, on his way to a game-high 21 points.
Smith shot 8-of-18 from the field and added 10 rebounds and four assists.
Junior Tyler Bonar and sophomore Kyle Arnold helped stabilize things for the Braves after Smith's hot start.
Senior substitutes Ben Fox and Josh Klingensmith then combined for eight of Badger's 20 second-quarter points as the Braves (6-1, 3-1) got back into the game.
"Our subs did a nice job tonight," Badger coach Bill Bogan said. "Coming into the season that was a concern, but they've done a great job stepping up and giving us valuable minutes."
Closing in: Hubbard led 17-9 after one quarter but Badger closed the gap in the second quarter, tying the game 29-29 on a steal and layup by Fox with 18 seconds to play in the half.
Smith then hit a shot just before the buzzer.
The Hubbard lead dissipated largely because the Eagles (4-5, 2-3) did not take care of the ball, finishing with 21 turnovers.
"Badger brings pretty good pressure; they're a very athletic team and they hustle," Hubbard coach Scott Grover said. "That being said, there's no excuse for the turnovers. We have to take better care of the ball."
Hubbard led 36-31 early in the third quarter before Badger responded to take a 49-45 lead at the end of three.
The Eagles regained the lead 51-49 on 3-pointers by Anthony Smith and Matt Smith, then Badger ran off 16 straight points for a 65-51 lead with 3:34 left to play.
Hubbard got no closer than the final score.
Seniors Josh Upshire, Ryan Miller and Brett Bell had a hand in all 16 points in the Badger run.
"Those three guys have started since they were freshmen and they've played over 70 varsity games," Bogan said. "A lot of teams in the area seem fairly young and we've been in their shoes the past few years."
High scorers: Miller finished with 18 points and four assists, Upshire had 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Bell had eight points and six rebounds. Junior starter Mitch Logan added 12 points.
"They do a nice job scoring inside and out," Bogan said of Hubbard. "We thought it would be a high-scoring game if we could make our shots."
The Braves shot 44 percent on 29-of-66 shooting, but missed several layups.
"That's been a bugaboo of ours this year -- we're shooting below 40 percent from the field for the season," Bogan said. "Hopefully that's something that will come around."
Grover said the Eagles were ready to run with the Braves.
"We usually play up-tempo to our advantage, but tonight we were out-hustled," he said.
Matt Smith contributed 15 points and four steals and Jason Lenzi had 13 points for the Eagles. Hubbard shot 42 percent from the field on 26-of-62 shooting, but that included a 4-of-18 night from 3-point range.