By Brandon Speck
BOONEVILLE – Biggersville has been there and is trying to get back. Belmont is trying to get there.
Both looking to take the next step, the defending Class 1A champion Lions beat Belmont 83-57 Friday behind a second-half run in the opener of the Booneville Kiwanis Classic.
“We got ourselves in the right positions in the second half,” Biggersville coach Cliff Little said. “We just weren’t ready to play.”
Belmont (6-5) and its five starting juniors stayed within striking distance of the more-experienced Lions, down as little as 33-29 on Bryan Malone’s make inside late in second quarter.
Belmont stymied Biggersville’s runs in the first half. With the Lions up 10, Luke Alexander hit from deep to keep it close.
Biggersville (10-1) pulled away in the third quarter, taking a 47-32 lead on Daniel Simmons’ 3-pointer.
“We played really hard and tried to do things right and then we had about two minutes of mental lapses,” Belmont coach Guy Gardner said.
Biggersville is still without small forward Marquis Watson and forward Emmanuel Simmons returned after missing three games. Starting Belmont point guard Isaac Sparks left the game with a left leg injury in the third quarter.
The Cardinals got it back to a 10-point deficit on Gabriel Ervin’s make, but seniors Simmons and Jaylon Gaines both had dunks and Gaines put back his own miss to end the third with a 64-48 lead. He had a game-high 20 points.
“They’re kind of that perfect combination of great coaching and great talent,” Gardner said. “You let up at all and they’re going to bury you. And they did.”
Simmons scored 17, Slater Huggins 15 and Darian Barnett 14 for Biggersville, four days removed from a 55-53 win at 4A contending Corinth.
Harrison Fancher and Alexander had 10 each for Belmont.
“We got a few buckets, a few steals, got to running a little bit in the second half,” Little said. “That’s what we want to do.”