When you are hot, you’re hot and unfortunately for the Hannibal boys’ basketball team, Helias’ Jared Bentlage was as hot as hot could be Friday night.
Bentlage hit a Helias school record 10 three-pointers as he led the Crusaders to a 64-43 win over Hannibal.
“(Bentlage) shot the lights out of it,” Hannibal coach Matt Pugh said. “Up to today he was averaging three points a game. He had one of those nights. Hats off to him because that was an outstanding performance.”
But it wasn’t just Bentlage beating up on the Pirates, Hale Hentges recorded a double-double as he finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. As a pair, Bentlage and Hentges combined for 47 points and outscored the entire Hannibal team by themselves.
“It might go unnoticed if you weren’t at the game,” Pugh said. “But we did not have an answer for Hentges. His physicality and his size and his motor, we struggled to try to keep him under wraps. We had to pinch down on the post so much when he was in there, that opened up shots for guys like (Bentlage). I think (Hentges) had a tremendous impact on the game.”
Pugh knew his team was going to need to play an almost perfect game against Helias.
“It is tough,” Pugh said of playing against Helias. “They are always going to be very well coached and schooled in the fundamentals. You can tell that their kids play a lot. You know that you are always going to have to play really, really well, almost exceptionally well, to kind of overcome them.”
As for Hannibal, only two Pirates players managed to record a bucket. Senior Dalton Powell turned in another 20-plus point night as he finished with 22 points while Eric Hugenberg contributed 12 points. Powell and Hugenberg combined for eight treys.
“We know that those two guys always have to score for us in order for us to stay in the ball game and be competitive,” Pugh said. “Right now we are kind of looking for that next guy consistently. Sometimes it has been Dylan (Powell) and other times it has been Lijah (Harrison) chipping in with 10 or so a few times. Other times Mitch (Nichols) steps up a little bit, but right now we are just trying to figure out that consistent third option."
The rest of Hannibal’s scoring came from the free throw line. Lijah Harrison was a perfect 4-for-4 at the line while Dylan Powell was 3-for-3. Gus Meyers and Austin Haynes both went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe.
Hannibal kept the game close in the first quarter and even led 5-3 for over a minute. But, Helias closed out the first quarter on a 6-0 run to take an 11-5 lead into the second quarter.
Helias started to pull away from Hannibal in the second as the Crusaders opened with a 7-3 run to increase their lead over Hannibal to 18-8. A pair of free throws from Dylan Powell got Hannibal back within eight points and 18-10, but Helias closed out the first half on a 9-2 run.
Hannibal went into halftime trailing 27-12.
Dalton Powell managed only 7 points in the first half as he spent a lot of the second quarter on the bench while in foul trouble.
“Dalton (Powell) gets a couple of quick ones,” Pugh said. “I think Lijah (Harrison) had a coupel of quick ones. That hurts us a little bit, especially when Dalton (Powell) gets in foul trouble and we have to take him off the floor for an extended period of time.”
In the third quarter, the scoring really picked up. It seemed like every time one team scored, the other team would counter with a score of its own, but Helias still outscored the Pirates, 23-19. The Crusaders’ Bentlage recorded four of his 10 treys in the third.
Dalton Powell hit three of his treys in the third quarter and scored 13 points. Hugenberg also hit a pair of treys for Hannibal in the third.
“We got into a good groove there for what seemed like a few stretches,” Pugh said. “We just didn’t get enough stops. When it is all said and done, you have got to stop them more than they stop you. That is the name of the game.”
Over the final eight minutes, Hannibal once again kept the game close, but only because Helias had most of its varsity on the bench. With just over four minutes left, Helias sent Bentlage back out on the floor. Bentlage tied the Helias school record with his ninth trey at 3:57. Then with 2:58 left in the game, he broke the record with his 10th trey. That would be the Crusaders final points of the night. At that point, Hannibal trailed 64-39 before closing out the game with a 4-0 run. Overall, Helias outscored the Pirates 14-12 in the fourth quarter.
With the loss, Hannibal falls to 6-14 on the season while Helias improves to 9-9. The Pirates will have a week to recover from their latest loss as Hannibal does not play again until next Friday, Feb. 1 against North Central Missouri Conference foe Kirksville.
“We are off a whole week,” Pugh said. “We get to lick our wounds a little bit, so to speak.”
In junior varsity action, Hannibal fell 62-31 to Helias.