Gateway High School came into its Bay Counties League Central showdown against Bay School on a 10-game winning streak.
And with a considerable size advantage over the smaller Breakers, Gateway was looking to make a statement over the defending conference champions.
But Bay had other ideas, as it forced Gateway into 20 turnovers while shooting
48 percent and rolled to a 67-44 victory Tuesday.
Bay (11-6, 3-0), which was playing without last season’s BCL Central MVP Henry Gale, who’s out with a shoulder injury, blew open the game with a 15-0 run midway through the fourth quarter.
“The boys had a tough nonleague [schedule] and we’ve been through a lot of physical, hard games,” Bay coach Pete Overfelt said. “We just kind of put our heads down and went to work knowing if we did what we needed to do, we’d win.”
Leading 50-41 with 5:30 left in the game, Breakers senior guard Conner Mattoon started the decisive run with a steal that led to his finger roll, and senior Zev Newman’s three-point play on the next possession made it 55-41.
Eventually, the Breakers stretched their lead to 65-41, thus sending everyone a reminder in the BCL Central that the conference championship still goes through Bay.
Bay has leaned on the senior leadership of Mattoon, who had a game-high 18 points Tuesday, and Newman this season. The Breakers also got a huge contribution Tuesday from James Koch, who scored nine points on the evening.
“We do miss Henry, but before the season I felt we had five players who can score 20 every night,” Overfelt said. “Now, I have four that can score 20, as well, as James is picking up the slack and playing very physical.”
Meanwhile, Gateway (11-2, 3-1) dug itself an early hole, falling behind 19-9 after the first quarter. However, the Gators shot 64 percent in the second frame, while cutting the Bay lead to 26-24 on a pair of jump shots from senior Ramon Thompson.
Despite a strong effort from junior Ray Porter, who finished with a team-high 17 points, the Gators never got closer than the five-point deficit they faced at halftime, shooting a meager 24 percent from the field in the second half.
“Give Bay credit, they kept our bigs under wraps, and shot the ball beautifully,” Gateway coach Greg Grossman said. “Closed out the first half well, but we couldn’t shoot in the [second half], and we turned the ball over way too much.”
Gateway won’t have much time to lick its wounds as it is set to face Waldorf tonight.
“Its only one game and the league is long,” Grossman said. “We have to bounce back quickly because Waldorf is the same way, they can shoot.”