Wellsville's win puts the Bulldogs in a tie with Crestview.
By JOHN BUTERA
WELLSVILLE -- Once again, the Tri-County League basketball race is anyone's game. The loop began its second go-round Friday with East Palestine in control.
Now, it's anyone's for the taking as Wellsville scored an impressive 62-54 win over the Bulldogs.
The Tigers were hot early and that, coupled with handily outscoring the Bulldogs in each of the first three periods, spelled heartache for East Palestine.
Wellsville converted the first four East Palestine turnovers into baskets and began the game 8-of-11 from the field as they improved to 5-3 in the conference and 10-3 overall.
The Bulldogs (8-4, 6-2) are tied for the league lead with Crestview.
"The good start was huge for us," Tigers coach Bug Thompson said. "We got out running and finally got our offense going. Then our defensive pressure went right along with that.
"This was a big win for us," Thompson said. "Now, we need help. If we would have played all year like we played tonight, we wouldn't need help."
Wellsville started league play 3-0, then dropped three straight before winning their last two. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, started with a loss to Wellsville, then won six straight.
The Tigers used two 6-0 runs to go ahead 14-7 midway through the opening period.
"Wellsville played a great game," coach Tom Bingham of East Palestine said. "Give them credit. They were ready to go from the start and it showed. They really needed this game and they earned it.
East Palestine suffered seven turnovers in that first period and managed to make baskets on consecutive possessions just one time through the first three quarters.
Tim Doran, who led East Palestine with six assists, made a basket at 4:41 of the opening quarter. But the Bulldogs scored just one more 2-pointer until Travis Foreman connected at 2:17 of the second quarter.
By then, Wellsville had a 29-16 lead.
"They came out excited, that's for sure," said Doran of Wellsville. "And right from the tip they were ready for us. They did a nice job of shooting the ball while we couldn't get ours to fall. Then the hole we dug got pretty deep. We played right to the end through."
Foreman led East Palestine with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Wellsville outscored East Palestine 18-10 in the first quarter, 11-6 in the second and 18-8 in the third.
Ahead 38-23 late in the third, Wellsville put the game away with eight points in just more than a minute.
Josh Lyle, who finished with 15 points, highlighted the rally when he stood alone on the foul line, converting four straight free throws including two technical fouls.
By the end of the third quarter, the Tigers were in control, 47-24.
"Wellsville made us do a lot of things we normally don't do," Bingham said. "And once you get down like that, you start looking for answers. Tonight though was one of those nights we didn't have any."
The Bulldogs scored 30 points and held the Tigers without a basket in the fourth quarter.
But Wellsville made 15-of-19 free throws.
Zack Welch, who took scoring honors with 20 points, was 11-for-13 at the line in the final period.