BELPRE - Coming off an impressive win just a day earlier at Meigs, Belpre came out flat and ''played tired,'' but managed to survive against a one-win visiting Miller team, eventually using a foul-line advantage to subdue the Falcons 60-55 in a TVC Hocking girls basketball game Thursday night.
The Golden Eagles, now 11-5 overall and 6-5 in TVC Hocking contests, got behind 9-1 early, caught up at 12-12, took the lead at 14-13 at 6:04 of the second quarter and never trailed the rest of the way.
Still, though, when the fourth quarter came around, Belpre was hanging on to a narrow margin that got sliced to the slimmest, only one point twice, at 45-44 and then again at 53-52 with just 2:50 to play.
But both times when its lead was threatened, Belpre responded with a point spurt to jack its advantage back up. The first time, a 6-0 burst - capped by Rachel Packard feeding Sierra Barker on a break, then rebounding in her own missed free throw - pushed the Golden Eagles out to a 51-44 lead with 4:15 remaining.
After the lead shrank again to almost nothing at 53-52, Belpre's Emily Hughes sank two free throws at 2:01 to stop the bleeding. And with 1:48 left, the hosts began to hold the ball, forcing Miller to foul with Katelyn Hughes making a pair of freebies at 1:10 for a five-point gap, 57-52.
Makayla Alexander, however, tossed in a trey with 57 seconds to go, bringing the margin down to two at 57-55 before Katelyn Hughes tacked on two foul shots at 22.4 seconds. Packard dropped in a free throw with just 12.3 seconds left for a five-point spread, 60-55, and the Falcons missed from the baseline at 4.0 seconds and inside at 0.6 seconds.
Barker paced Belpre's scoring in the game with 19 points, followed by Katelyn Hughes with 16 and Emily Hughes with 10, while for Miller, now 1-12, Tessa Price netted 16 points, Alexander added 11, Sauae Dutiel nine and Jacy Dutiel eight.
''A win is a win, we'll take it,'' said Belpre head coach Scott Miller. ''It may have been a struggle on offense for us. But on defense, I think our legs were tired, we didn't have the zip we had last night and we let them dribble-penetrate to the basket.
''We let a team that's only got one win all season have some hope all the way through the game, and you can't do that. When you're at home, you've got to take care of business - and we did finally, but it sure wasn't pretty tonight.''