Dunnellon tops Belleview in boys basketball

Defense paces Tigers to win over Rattlers

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Posted December 7, 2023 | By Mark Pinson/Special to the Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

The adage that defense travels was never more apparent than in Thursday night’s game between Dunnellon and Belleview.

Both teams had trouble putting the ball in the basket, especially early in the contest, but Dunnellon’s full-court press, which forced Belleview into 23 turnovers, and an aggressive man-to-man defense proved to be the difference as the Tigers eased past the Rattlers by a score of 62-32.

The win evened Dunnellon’s record at 1-1 on the season.

“We started out slow with low energy, but we picked it up,” said first-year Tigers coach Donovan Powell. “We’ve got a nice blend of height and athleticism, and we want to take advantage of that and jump on teams early.”

The loss dropped Belleview to 1-3 overall.

Both squads came out ice cold from the floor in the first quarter with Dunnellon senior guard Chris Henry’s 3-pointer from the top of the key and a rebound basket by Bode Burns the only points scored in the first four minutes.

Belleview finally broke its scoring drought on a fall away jumper in the paint by Al Johnson to pull the Rattlers within 5-2 with 1:06 left in the opening period.

Dunnellon forward Sean Simpson was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and the Tiger junior calmly made all three free throws to give the Tigers an 8-4 lead heading to the second stanza.

Belleview continued to struggle scoring and Dunnellon took full advantage as Sean Martin scored five of his eight points, including a long 3-pointer from the wing, and junior Tre’quori Rollerson added four points in the paint and a free throw to give the Tigers a commanding 26-6 lead at the half.

Dunnellon’s full-court press gave the Belleview ball handlers fits with errant passes being turned into easy baskets. The Class 4A Tigers continued to apply pressure which forced an up-tempo style that magnified their athleticism.

Dunnellon stayed hot in the third quarter as Martin knocked down a 3-pointer and Simpson scored four of his game-high 12 points to expand the Tigers’ advantage to 34-7 with 4:08 left in the period.

Belleview’s Julian Ramos scored three of his team-high seven points to pull the Class 5A Rattlers within 38-17 heading to the final eight minutes.

Belleview continued to play hard and tried to make a run, but Henry drained back-to-back 3-pointers as part of an 11-point night to stem any hopes of a Rattlers comeback.

Both teams substituted liberally in the closing minutes to give all the players a chance to get on the floor.

Dunnellon is back on the hardwood on Saturday with a game against Menendez (St. Augustine) in a tournament at North Marion High School.

Belleview hosts West Port on Friday night.

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