By Bob Kopp

Special Correspondent

BELVIDERE – With the braintrust of parochial powerhouse Rockford Lutheran watching in the middle of the stands just behind the scorer’s table, the Bucs ended resurgent and relentless Freeport’s post-season hopes with a convincing victory in a game much closer than the final score 61-49 to set up Friday’s Regional Championship against the Crusaders at 7 p.m.

In a match-up of notoriously physical teams punctuated by several skill players and deep benches, officials had their hands full yet kept order with consistent calls and firm control of the action.

Typically Buc tough on defense with the always timely management of the rotation and clock by Head Coach Aaron Pearson, senior Colton Bahling led all scorers with 18 points.  Senior Ron Paris and junior Deante Barnes each added 14 points followed by seniors Kurtis Dimond (8), Tyler Lass (4), and Ryan McKnight (3).

The evening opened with top-seeded and state ranked (3rd) Rockford Lutheran smothering Rochelle 66-43 with a roster assembled from some of the finest basketball talent in the area for a legitimate run at a state title.  The only thing standing in the way of the Crusaders is a Belvidere High School team that took Auburn, a national powerhouse, to the edge of defeat on Feb. 7.  With Coach Pearson and his assistants Nate Lister, Brandon Codina, and Bob White having established the Bucs as a perennial force in the NIC-10 and gutsy multi-sport athletes in the rotation pushed in practice by a deep roster, the Crusaders will need their A game to advance to Sectionals.

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