TIPTON — The Cardinals held a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter but could not hit shots down the stretch and Belle pulled away for a 55-48 on Monday.
The Cardinals led 40-35 after a Bryce Sanders steal which led to a Jimmie Upton layup followed by a 3-pointer by Upton. But Tipton missed its next eight shots from the field as Belle stormed in front, taking a 44-42 lead with 3:26 left in the game on a Konnor Lansford 3-pointer. Upton tied the game from the free throw line moments later, but Belle went on an 11-3 run to close out the game.
“I thought our chances were there, we just need to make them,” said Tipton coach Jacob Watson.
Facing Tipton’s zone defense, Belle had to shoot from outside and struggled to hit those shots early, missing the first four 3-point attempts of the game before Logan Prigge knocked one down to cut the Cardinals lead to 7-5. For the game, Belle shot 7 of 22 from 3-point range.
“Defensively we were just in our 2-3 and we were trying to hedge that pass up at the top, trying to take that pass away,” Watson said. “They did do a good job of being patient with it and just working their offense through. They did get some good shots from 3-point land. I thought we did a good job of holding them where we should be.”
Tipton held Belle sophomore Skyler Smith to three points in the first three quarters but he came on strong in the fourth, scoring nine in the quarter including a 3-point play and a dunk on back-to-back possessions to turn what had been a 44-44 tie into a 49-44 Tigers lead.
“That kid’s a heck of an athlete,” Watson said. “He can handle the ball and he’s quick, so his first step really caught us quite a bit, just kind of splitting our zone. We’ve just got to do a better job of collapsing in the middle.”
Upton scored 12 points, nine of them in the fourth quarter. Sanders added 11 before fouling out. Ryan Wood had 10.
Tipton (1-4) will visit Cole Camp on Friday.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles