It may not show up in the box score, but Adreal Bell did the necessary things to lead William Chrisman to a win Tuesday.
As the only player who had logged varsity minutes prior to this season the majority of the game for the Bears – junior Tierra Lopez missed the contest with an injury and sophomore Jennifer David left the game with an injury midway through the first – Bell, a junior, marked a calming and guiding influence on the floor for Chrisman as it held off Belton, 51-44, at home.
Part of Bears teams the last two seasons that won 39 games, Tuesday Bell helped direct the offense, set the defense and slowed the game down at key points while being on the floor nearly the whole game, mostly with at least three freshman teammates.
Her two free throws with 21 seconds left gave Chrisman a two-possession lead, a crucial aspect after the Bears – who have no seniors and only two juniors on the roster – struggled down the stretch.
“We missed some free throws and layups, but we did just enough to win the game and that’s a real positive from where we’re at as a group,” Chrisman coach Scott Schaefer said. “Adreal knows everything we do. She made the free throws at the end, she’s the experienced hand and kind of knows what to expect and hopefully that will rub off on some of our younger kids.”
Mainly a role player on some upperclassmen-dominated teams as a freshman and sophomore, Bell’s role has changed dramatically for a team that fielded five freshmen and four sophomores in its 10-player rotation.
“Last year I wasn’t depended on as much, so this year it’s a big transition,” Bell said. “But it’s really fun and I like it. Being one of the older players on the team, I feel like I’m pulling them with me. They’re a lot of fun to play with.”
The young Bears looked like a veteran team as they jumped to leads of 20-8 and 39-26 during the first three quarters, limiting turnovers and out-rebounding the Pirates by a wide margin.
Jacque David – who joins Fort Osage’s Kiyley Flowers as one of the area’s breakout freshmen – tallied 14 of her game-high 15 points in the first three frames while Annie Nauer poured in all 10 of her points.
“Getting the ball inside helped me tonight,” Jacque David said. “The younger players on the team, we have some experience growing up playing together.”
But young mistakes hampered Chrisman in the fourth.
After Amanda Szopinski’s driving layup and Giavanna Moore’s three-point play gave the Bears a 46-34 lead, Chrisman went scoreless for more than four minutes.
Kyndal Lewis hit two 3-pointers as Belton scored 10 straight points and cut its deficit to two with 34 seconds left before Jacque David hit a free throw.
Following a defensive stop, Bell calmly swished her two free throws to help clinch the game.
“I thought our kids hung in there,” Schaefer said. “There were plenty of opportunities for us to collapse as they inched closer. … That’s two straight wins for us. We’ll take it.”
Lewis finished with 12 points to pace the Pirates (2-3), while Szopinski added nine points for the Bears (2-3).
Schaefer noted there’s an adjustment with all the freshmen and sophomores he has this season compared to the last two years, but with the talent Chrisman has – and with Bell providing some experienced leadership – the Bears have the potential for plenty of more wins.
“We tell them they’re doing some things sometimes that they may have gotten away with in middle school and even over the summer, and sometimes that’s not the best thing for us on the court at that moment,” he said. “But the talent does shine through some of those mistakes. …The things that we expect our kids to do, it sometimes puts pressure on them because they haven’t had the reps that our older kids had the last couple of years. But we’re going to continue to coach them and push them and squeeze them a little bit and see if they can’t nudge forward. We’re not trying to do too many things from a system standpoint, we’re just trying to get better with what they’re doing.”