Second-half swing lifts Teach to win on Senior Night

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS Guard Avery Bowen pulls up for a mid-range jumper in a win over Bethel on Tuesday. He finished with a game-high 25 points.

Guard Avery Bowen pulls up for a mid-range jumper in a win over Bethel on Tuesday. He finished with a game-high 25 points.

CHOCOWINITY — After a slow start, Teach powered its way to a 55-41 win over Bethel Assembly on Tuesday in the team’s final home game of the regular season.

Guard Avery Bowen has been the one offensive constant for head coach Jason Kirkman, averaging about 27 points per game, and on an emotional Senior Night, he did not disappoint. Bowen, bruised and battered, spent his night taking on three of Bethel’s tallest defenders in the paint, working his way to the line and converting most of his opportunities. It’s the blueprint he’s used rack up points and keep his team in ballgames.

Bowen finished with 25 points, but even his dribble penetration was not enough to stop the Eagles early on.

Bethel leaned on its lengthy shooters in the first quarter and opened up an early lead. Using their height to their advantage, Alex Lanier and Wayne Wall worked off one another and exploited the Trailblazers’ man defense. Wall scored a quick seven points, giving his team a 13-7 lead after eight minutes.

Teach’s defense continued to struggle defending Bethel’s shooters, but Bowen, Brian Warren and Josh Toler kept their team within striking distance, matching the Eagles offensively. At the break, Bethel held a narrow 28-25 lead.

“Defensively, we tried to play man in the first half, so the second half we switched to a 2-3 zone and we wanted Raquan (Jeffires), our senior, to push up a little bit from the middle,” Kirkman said. “On offense, we wanted Avery to bring it up and get space. We wanted him to penetrate and dish to the outside. It worked very well.”

The defensive adjustment negated Bethel’s shooters at mid-range, forcing ill-advised, contested shots from the perimeter. Spurred by Jeffires rebounding, the missed shots gave Teach enough of a cushion to capitalize in transition.

“Raykwon has done that for us all year,” Kirkman said. “He tends to always show up. He’ll score eight or nine points, but you can always count on 12, 13 or 14 rebounds every game.”

Teach carried a 42-35 lead heading into the final quarter and didn’t look back. Bethel was limited to just one bucket from the floor and four free throws, while Bowen continued to fight his way to the charity stripe.

“They seemed to pick it up very well from the first quarter on,” Kirkman said. “They got into the flow of the game and shots started falling. We were getting good looks in the first quarter, but the shots weren’t falling. At the beginning of the game we gave them a few things we wanted them to work on — patience and shot selection, we told them we needed to limit them to one shot.”

Bowen went 8-of-12 from the line in the final quarter and sealed the win for Teach.

Jeffires finished with nine points and a game-high 17 rebounds, while Toler notched a quiet but effective six points. Lanier led Bethel with 15 points.

With the win, Teach improves to 11-5 and will take on Victory in Greenville on Feb. 23.