JIMTOWN — Try as it might, Jimtown couldn't build any steam off the small lead it took in the first quarter.
After three quarters of trying to shake Bethany off only to find the Bruins tightening their grip even harder, Jimtown turned to what coach Ron Dietz called the team's strongest asset.
"We keep preaching to the kids, our bread and butter is our defense," he said. "In order to win the game, we had to get some stops on them in the fourth quarter, and with those stops, it allowed us to get fouled and go to the line."
After the Bruins lingered within four points most of the contest — including a short-lived lead off back-to-back fast break layups from Sol Brenneman — Jimtown dug in and cranked out a string of defensive stops.
Brenneman's pull-up jumpers stopped falling. Abe Thorne's layups stopped rolling in. After shooting 60 percent in the first three quarters, Bethany only hit 3-of-11 in the fourth. On the other end of the court, Jimtown enjoyed an early double bonus and sank 10-of-13 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
"They were pretty tough defensively, and they put us in spots where we didn't get the shots that we'd want," Bethany coach Jim Buller said. "They got us underneath the backboard or under the baseline, places where you'd say they wanted to funnel us and we were too willing to go to."
Despite a slight drop off in the fourth quarter, Brenneman led all scorers with 23 of Bethany's 43 points.
"He has settled into his role very well," Buller said of the 6-foot junior. "It's a tough balance trying to be a point guard trying to get others involved in the offense, and yet we need his scoring. His defense has really picked up. He's playing an overall game right now."
Dietz can make a similar analysis of Jimtown's speedy sophomore Dylan Guldager, who lead the Jimmies with 17 points and three assists.
"He brings us a lot of energy and athleticism," Dietz said. "He also has to run the show for us and he's getting better at picking his spots but also understanding to get other people involved."
The win marks Jimtown's third in a 10-game stretch that saw five straight losses. Although Concord is still on the menu followed by a trip to Fairfield, the Jimmies have already matched the 7-win season it saw last year.
"Even with a senior-dominated team last year, one of our goals is to match or get above where we were last year," Dietz said. "Now we've done that and we have some opportunities down the stretch."
Bethany (3-14), on the other hand, drops its 10th straight contest. Buller said the challenge now is to keep the team's collective mind off of its record and focus instead on the lessons it can take away from each game.
"It's hard-working group and they get along with each other, and we try every day to find something that we liked that makes us a little bit better than yesterday," Buller said.
JIMTOWN 56, BETHANY CHRISTIAN 43
Bethany — Sol Brenneman 8-12 1-2 23, Tristan Clark 1-3 1-2 3, Joseph Mumaw 0-3 0-0 0, Abe Thorne 4-11 1-5 9, Ethan Miller 2-3 0-0 5, Joel Gerig 0-0 0-0 0, IJoel Miller 1-2 0-0 3. Totals: 18-39 (.462) 3-9 (.333) 43.
Jimtown — Dylan Guldager 4-10 9-12 17, Adam DeShone 2-11 6-7 12, Trevor Hobbs 4-5 1-2 9, Austin Secor 0-2 0-0 0, Nick Floyd 5-7 0-1 14, Sam Pawlak 2-2 0-0 4, Kain Templeton 0-0 0-0 0.. Totals: 17-37 (.459) 16-22 (.727) 56.
Scoring By Quarters
Bethany — 10 10 15 8 — 43
Jimtown — 14 10 15 17 — 56
3-point goals: Bethany (4-14) — Brenneman 2, E. Miller, J. Miller; Jimtown (6-18) — Floyd 4, DeShone 2.
Rebounds: Bethany (20) —Thorne 9 ; Jimtown (25) — Floyd 6, Guldager 5, DeShone 5, Hobbs 5.
Assists: Bethany (7) — Mumaw 5; Jimtown (6) — Guldager 3.
Steals: Bethany (7) — Brenneman 2, J. MIller 2; Jimtown (6) — DeShone 3.
Turnovers: Bethany 14, Jimtown 12.
Total fouls: Bethany 17, Jimtown 11.
Records: Bethany 3-14, Jimtown 7-10.
Next: LaVille at Bethany Saturday, Feb. 22; Concord at Jimtown Friday, Feb. 21.
JV: Jimtown 36, Bethany 16. Top scorers: Jimtown — Dalton Whitman 10, Tevin Klosinski 8 ; Bethany — Zane Zmudsinski 8.