The Bethlehem boys basketball team appears to be peaking at the right time.
The Eagles (9-5 league, 14-6 overall) avenged an earlier loss to Shaker by beating the Blue Bison 62-50 in Sunday's Suburban Council Division II Tournament championship game at Albany's Washington Avenue Armory.
We finally played the way we're supposed to play, said Bethlehem coach A.G. Irons.
Bethlehem's offense was in gear from the opening tip as the Eagles built a 20-7 lead. Center John Drazan personally outscored the Blue Bison 8-7.
"We started slow we were not playing the game we wanted to play," said Shaker coach Jeff Holmes.
Ryan Sullivan got Shaker's offense going in the second quarter with six of his team-high 15 points, but the Blue Bison (7-7, 9-10) couldn't get the deficit under 13 points due to three big field goals from Bethlehem's Joe Kane " two of which were three-pointers.
"We know Joe is a major part of our offense, and tonight he played like a senior," Irons said of Kane, who finished with 18 points after being limited to eight points in Bethlehem's 66-52 loss at Shaker Jan. 29.
Sullivan continued to be a thorn in Bethlehem's side in the third quarter. The senior guard scored eight points including a corner three-pointer as the shot clock was set to expire. Sullivan's efforts helped Shaker cut Bethlehem's lead to nine points entering the fourth quarter.
The Eagles sealed the victory in the fourth quarter by shutting down Sullivan. Bethlehem held Sullivan scoreless, while Drazan picked up the scoring tempo at the other end with eight of his team-high 20 points.
The play that epitomized Shaker's night came with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. There was a flailing scrum for a loose ball with Shaker players diving all over the court and batting the ball around until it bounced into the hands of Bethlehem guard Connor Muncil, who laid it in for two of his seven points.