Bristol boys basketball seals win over Morrisville at the foul line (VIDEO)

Bristol sophomore Carter Kelley, right, is guarded by Morrisville defenders Dom White and Braedon Alward (2) in Bicentennial League boys basketball battle on the Warriors’ home court. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

BRISTOL – A week ago, Bristol shocked top-ranked Church Farm School and was flying high. The Warriors came crashing back to earth, however, five days later at New Hope-Solebury in a 52-43 loss to the 8-9 Lions.

Fast forward to Friday, Jan. 27 on Senior Night and Bristol very nearly received a surprise of its own when the Warriors allowed a woeful-shooting Morrisville team to climb back into a Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) duel on its home court in which the 4-14 Bulldogs had no business even contending.

Ahead by a dozen points at the half, Bristol watched that lead all but evaporate by the last three minutes of the final frame, ahead only 24-23 after Morrisville scoring leaders Isaiah Hedgepeth (9 pts.) and Braedon Alward (7 pts.) finally hit a few shots from behind the arc in the fourth quarter.

Before that, the Bulldogs went 0-10 from the floor in a second period that saw the visitors go scoreless. Indeed, Morrisville went 0-12 from 3-point range in the first half and was trailing 16-4 by the intermission.

Bristol underestimated the ability of the visitors to bounce back, however.

“Going into the half knowing that they only scored four points in two quarters, we took them way too lightly,” said Warriors point guard Carter Kelley. “We were just letting them take shots and all of a sudden, they started knocking them down.”

“We weren’t playing Bristol basketball; the defense just wasn’t there and that’s what hurt us.”

Ironically, it was a late-game melee that very nearly broke out between the sides that finally woke Bristol up. After Hedgepeth missed the back end of a one-and-one chance at the foul line, Kelley tried to take the ball coast to coast but lost the handle as he approached the basket. Senior Ronnie Garrison – who led all scorers with 16 points – came down with the rebound and was immediately mugged as he went back up with the ball, which he heaved wildly over the basket.

A scramble for the ensuing rebound resulted in a scuffle that was followed by some pushing and shoving by both sides. The short story is nothing came of it.

After a pair of made fouls shots by Garrison that gave the Warriors a 3-point cushion, Hedgepeth was awarded a pair of free throws of his own, the result of a technical foul assessed Bristol for coming off the bench during the fracas.

“I saw people pushing so I’m not going to go out there and start fighting,” said Kelley. “I’m just gonna go and see what’s happening try and separate the teams because I didn’t want any problems.”

While Hedgepeth made just one of his two foul shots, the free tosses came with 2:12 remaining in the fourth quarter and with only a 26-24 deficit, there was plenty of time for the Bulldogs to tie things up, perhaps even win the battle.

The Warriors had other thoughts however, and they made good on seven of their last eight trips to the foul line including four straight by Garrison and two by Parker Kelley after a crucial steal by the senior shooting guard.

“The coach said ‘we got to get it together; we have to play how we play. This is our house and we have to step it up on defense. No more sluggish stuff,’” said Carter Kelley. “I mean, this is Morrisville – we don’t like Morrisville. We want to come out on top.”

After going 2-for-7 from the foul line in the first three periods, Bristol eventually righted itself, going 11-for-14 from the stripe in the final frame.

“We kind of caught a smack in the face when it was tied so we got together as one team and picked up the energy on both the offensive and defensive ends and knocked down our free throws.”

Poor foul shooting proved costly to Bristol’s fortunes last year. After latching onto District 1 Class AA crown in 2014 and 2015, the Warriors weren’t invited to the D-1 dance last year.

“That really killed us last year; we could have won five or six more games because of free throws,” said Carter Kelley. “Coach is really pushing us to work on foul shots.”

Against Church Farm, the Warriors led from start to finish but allowed the 11-4 Griffens to climb back into the contest when they shot only 13-of-23 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Carter really came through for Bristol vs. CFS, leading the way to a 51-45 triumph with a team high 15 points. Garrison and Cortez also chipped in with 13 points apiece.

“That was a huge win for us; they are the top seed in the district,” said Warriors head coach Matt Gasper. “We were beating them by 14-15 point almost the entire game.”

From there, Bristol traveled northbound to New Hope where the Warriors were outpaced 13-5 and 14-8 in the first and third quarters, respectively, on their way to a 52-43 loss.

“As coaches, that was a tough one to swallow, especially after the Church Farm win,” said Gasper, adding that some of his players were battling colds. “We had all the momentum, but something was just off that night.”

Except for the outcome, the Lions’ loss mimicked the Morrisville game in some ways. With just five points in the first period Friday night and four in the third, Bristol’s combined 9-point total was equal to the Bulldogs’ offensive output in those two quarters.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Warriors, from here. Bristol hosts Christopher Dock Monday then travels to DelCo Christian and MaST Charter on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. Church Farm has the top seed virtually locked up but the Warriors, the Knights and the Pioneers are battling it out for the other three spots.

NOTES: On Senior Night, Bristol started a trio of 12th-graders who don’t usually begin games on the hardwood for the Warriors and they included Kevin Buck, Marcus Jones and Tarique Harvey.

Bristol 33, Morrisville 26

(Jan. 27 at Bristol)

Morrisville         4 0 5 17 – 26

Bristol                   5 11 4 13 – 33

MORRISVILLE (4-14) — Isaiah Hedgepeth 3 2-4 9, Joe Jacobs 0 2-2 2, Braedon Alward 3 0-0 8, Favian Lopez 2 2-5 7; TOTALS — 8 6-11 26.

BRISTOL (9-7) — Parker Kelley 1 2-2 4, Carter Kelley 2 1-2 5, Kevin Bucks 0 1-2 1, Dayeshawn Cortez 1 1-5 3, Ronnie Garrison 4 8-10 16, Anthony McClinton 1 0-0 2, Austin Funair 1 0-0 2; TOTALS — 10 13-21 33.

3-POINT GOALS: M — Hedgepeth, Alward 2, Lopez; B — none.

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