By ALEX ABATE ~ DAR Sports Writer
BLOOMFIELD -- The Van Buren Bulldogs found a new gear when they needed on Saturday night in the consolation final of the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament.
After going silent for the last 3:25 of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs controlled the overtime period, outscoring the Royals 16-5 and winning the consolation trophy, 72-61.
"The fourth quarter we didn't necessarily get passive but we missed some easy shots and we turned the ball over a little bit trying to find a way," Van Buren coach Paul Lynch said. "Overall, it was a great effort and everyone stepped up and has so much heart."
Twin Rivers got its first basket of the overtime period when Dylan Stockton made a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining. They made some costly mistakes on possessions down the stretch.
"We made some mental mistakes and mental errors," Twin Rivers Kenny Johnson said. "We didn't work as a team there at the end and we didn't play good defense."
The Bulldogs had a solid 55-43 lead with 5:24 remaining after two Ian Newberry free throws, but the Royals fought back. Johnson scored at the 4:29 mark to start a 14-2 run by Twin Rivers in which he scored 11 points to tie the game at 56 after four quarters.
"In the second half we started playing a lot better defense and shooting the ball a lot better," Johnson said. "We pulled through and took it into overtime; we had a lot of momentum but made some errors."
Despite not executing well down the stretch and not having the momentum, Lynch told his team to keep plugging away, he said.
"I just told them to believe," Lynch said. "This group never gives up and keeps battling and battling and we get somebody new stepping up every night; they are just playing really well as a team and that is why we ended up here."
Van Buren missed five free throws in the fourth quarter, four of them with under a minute remaining in regulation which gave the Royals a chance to even the score.
"We work on them everyday and during the tournament we have been working really hard on them," Van Buren' Kyle Burke said. "We were a little tired and a little passive, this is the fourth day."
The Bulldogs lost to Bloomfield in the opening round of the tournament before beating Dexter and Richland to reach the final of the consolation bracket.
"We took on quarter off for the tournament and that was the fourth quarter of the first game which cost us getting into the winner's bracket," Lynch said. "Once we got here we had to make adjustments and our goal was to play on the fourth day; we are taking home a championship and there are a lot of teams that aren't playing today"
Twin Rivers beat East Prairie and Kennett after losing its first game of the tournament to South Pemiscot.
"The first game we thought we should have won," Johnson said. "We made it through the last two games good but this game we just didn't pull through like we wanted to."
Bernie 67, Portageville 64: Jake Owens had 24 points and Zach Curry had 22 points as Bernie moved past Portageville to secure fifth place in the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament Saturday night Curry and Owens brought Bernie back from a 35-27 halftime hole as Curry scored nine points in the quarter and Owens had eight. Byron Wright was the high scorer for Portageville with 15 points while Telrale Jones and Dometric Trotter added 11 points each in the loss.