Sophomore Kaleb Orton scored 22 points to lead Gilford past Belmont in the semifinals of the Lakes Region Holiday Tournament. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
January 07, 2013GILFORD – Sound basketball down the stretch enabled Gilford High School to hold on, as the Golden Eagles outlasted a tough challenge from Belmont High School, 62-56, in an exciting semifinal contest at the Lakes Region Holiday Basketball Tournament on Dec. 29.
"Both teams I thought played some high-quality basketball tonight," said Gilford coach Chip Veazey. "I thought it was a really good game."
Gilford sophomore Kaleb Orton proved to be the difference for the Eagles, as he poured in 22 points including seven in the decisive fourth quarter to lead the way.
"He goes after it the whole time," lauded Veazey of Orton. "He's relentless on the boards. That's the key to offensive rebounding…he stays after it. It isn't always pretty but he gets the job done."
Belmont got off to a great start in a back and forth first half, as the Red Raiders led 15-14 after one quarter and saw their lead grow to as big as 29-20 after back to back hoops from Kaleb Brace and Adam Prout. Belmont led 34-30 at intermission, with Brace scoring 13 points during that time.
"Scoring 34 points at halftime…I think there were a couple of games where we didn't even score that this year," said Belmont coach Derek Hamilton. "We executed really well in the first half."
The Eagles responded out of the locker room however, as Sam Prescott and Max Troiano erased the lead with early hoops, and back to back three-pointers from Josh Joyce put Gilford ahead 40-35.
"Josh had a real tough night last night (in the first round) and I just told him that good players bounce back," said Veazey. "His shot dropped tonight and he made (Belmont) pay for leaving him open a couple of times."
Joyce added his third three-pointer of the quarter with just 1:07 remaining, as the Eagles took a 45-40 lead into the fourth quarter.
"I thought they big swing was Gilford picked up its intensity defensively in the second half," Hamilton explained. "They pressure our ball screeners more and we just didn't respond as well as we had in the first half."
Hoops from Prout and Chris Duggan had the Raiders within 45-44 with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter before the Eagles went on a big run to create some breathing room. Prescott hit a pair of shots and Orton did the dirty work inside during an 11-1 run over a 4:31 span to put Gilford ahead 56-45.
"We had a unit out there that seemed to be going well in the second half so we just left them out there for awhile," said Veazey. "They did a good job building a lead after it was back and forth."
The Raiders chipped away at the double digit deficit down the stretch, but hoops from Pedro Perez and Jared Clough in the final minute could only get Belmont as close as 62-56 for the final.
"We were about one defensive stop short of getting back into it late," said Hamilton. "(Gilford) slowly worked themselves back into the game and then they kept going and created some separation in the fourth quarter. We just didn't have an answer."
Joyce finished with 17 points for the Eagles, with 12 of those coming in the second half. The sophomore guard had four threes to go along with eight assists. Prescott poured in 11 points for Gilford while Troiano tallied 10 to put four Eagles in double figures.
Brace led Belmont with 15 points on the night while Perez and Bret Spaulding each finished in double figures with 11. Prout tossed in nine points in a strong offensive night, while Clough chipped in with eight points.