Milton-Union boys hold off Bethel in TRC action


WEST MILTON — It was just another night of Three Rivers Conference basketball Tuesday night at Milton-Union High School.

A battle to the finish.

And in the end Milton was able to hold off a scrappy Bethel team 57-53.

The Bullodgs improved to 16-4 overall and 9-3 in the TRC, while Bethel dropped to 8-11 overall and 7-5 in the TRC.

“There are no nights off in this conference,” Milton-Union coach Rusty Berner said. “Every night is a battle.”

And while Milton tried to make it look easy — opening several double digit leads in the game — Bethel just kept battling back.

“We learned to battle at the beginning of the season,” Bethel coach Jack Brooks said. “This team is always going to battle.”

Milton had a 49-37 lead midway through the fourth quarter, before the Bees scored nine straight points — sparked by two Mike Halleg 3-pointers.

“We really like to play with pace,” Berner said. “And Bethel loves to play a half-court game. I think sometimes, we get lulled to sleep.”

It made for an exciting final 1:11, where Blake Brumbaugh and Cooper Brown shined for Milton-Union — only to have Casey Keesee answer for Bethel at the other end each time.

“The thing that makes Casey Keesee such a special player is he thinks all his teammates are just as special,” Brooks said. “He is the first one to compliment them when they do something special or make a big play.”

Brumbaugh hit two free thrwos with 1:11 to go to put Milton up 51-46.

It took Keesee just seven seconds to score at the other end.

Milton ran the clock down to 30 seconds, when Brumbaugh found Brown open underneath to make it 53-48.

“When you are forced to come out and guard us like they were in that situation, it is really tough to defense those guys — they are such good athletes,” Berner said.

Keesee scored again with 17 seconds to go to make it 53-50.

After Brown was fouled with 13.4 seconds to go and hit both free throws, Keesee hit a fall-back 3-pointer after ball faking a Milton-Union defender with four seconds to go and it was 55-53.

“(Casey) Keesee is such a good player,” Berner said. “He didn’t just hit a three —but a difficult three. That is why he is one of the best players in the conference.”

On the inbounds, Shane Ullery threw across to Cooper Brown behind the inbounds line and he found Brumbaugh open for a basket at the buzzer for the final margin.

Brumbaugh had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists to lead the Bulldogs.

Brown had 15 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals, Tyler Kress had eight points and Connor Yates had eight rebounds.

Keesee had a game-high 24 points and five rebounds for Bethel.

Will Reittinger scored 12 points, Halleg had 10 points and Jason Bowen and Remi Brannan both had eight rebounds.

Milton was 21 of 45 from the floor for 47 percent, including eight of 17 from long range for 47 percent. The Bullodogs made seven of nine free throws for 78 percent.

Bethel was 21 of 54 from the floor for 39 percent and five of nine from the line for 56 percent.

Milton won the battle of the boards 30-27 and had 11 turnovers to Bethel’s eight.

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