MANLIUS – When Bureau Valley needed someone to step up in the fourth quarter on Friday night, all five players on the floor answered that call.
With starters Parker Neuhalfen and Brian Lange on the bench with four fouls early in the fourth quarter, the Storm picked up their intensity on defense, controlled the boards and became more aggressive offensively.
Trailing Fulton for most of the game, the Storm scored 10 of the first 13 points of the final period to take the lead for good in a 57-49 victory over the Steamers in Three Rivers Conference action.
Jordan Monier broke a 37 all tie with a score inside to start the fourth quarter and Hunter Klemme, after missing his first four three-point attempts, hit a long three from the right wing.
Tommy Johnston, who led all scorers with 20 points, followed with another three and Bryce Hansen sank both of his free throws after a strong drive to the hoop. Tyler DeBrock also provided a big lift off the bench with his activity on the defensive end, disrupting the Fulton offense with a couple of steals and good help side defense.
“Between those three (guards), and with Mo and Tommy, that lineup just played tremendously well,” said Storm coach Jason Marquis. “I thought our execution down the stretch was a huge difference.”
“Fourth quarter, people were hitting shots, unlike the first half,” said Johnston, who also had seven rebounds. “We didn’t come out with enough intensity. We’ve had that problem all year, we can’t seem to put together four quarters.”
Fulton (4-17, 1-6) did cut the deficit back to four, 49-45,with a baseline drive by Nick Fish and a free throw from Jake Willging with 3:27 remaining. However, Neuhalfen and Lange returned to the court and quickly put an end to the rally.
Lange knocked down two free throws and made a nice hustle play by grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring on a putback. Neuhalfen (16 points) then calmly made four straight free-throw attempts to clinch the win.
Marquis called the first quarter “ugly” as the Storm managed just one field goal on a Johnston drive to the hoop and trailed 6-4. Fulton extended its lead to 23-20 at the half and then took their biggest lead of the night, 35-28, by scoring six unanswered points halfway through the third quarter.
The Storm fought back to tie the game at 37 when Johnston netted two free throws and Neuhalfen hit a three from the top of the key with 55 seconds remaining in the third period. Neuhalfen would later be called for his fourth foul with three seconds left in the third, which forced him to the bench for the first half of the fourth quarter.
“With Parker and Brian on the bench, Tyler DeBrock and Bryce Hansen, those kids stepped in and I thought they gave us tremendous minutes tonight,” said Marquis. “They were poised and took care of the ball. It was good to have that poise in the fourth quarter.”
“I believe our kids are starting to buy into things,” he added. “They are starting to believe in themselves. They are starting to believe they can win close games, instead of giving it away.”
• Fulton scored six points in the final 30 seconds to break a 37 all tie and win 43-37 in the sophomore prelim. Alex Johnson had a team-high 10 points for the Storm. Fulton also won the freshmen contest to start Friday night’s triple-header by a score of 51-42. Andrew Fordham scored 17 points and Treyson Dale chipped in 11 for BV.