Bob Kopp

BDR Sports Correspondent

FREEPORT – Freeport is always tough at home.

Exuberant fans, high-decibel pep band, physical play to match consistent athleticism, and a proud tradition never backing down to anyone make the longest road trip in the NIC-10 a challenge for visitors.

Especially since Belvidere knocked the Pretzels out of the IHSA football playoffs in a 20-19 thriller back in October, Freeport’s multiple-sports hoopsters had penciled this game on the calendar for payback.

While the Bucs extended their lead at the end of the first three quarters (15-7, 30-20, 49-35) behind last year’s only junior to be named first-team all-conference senior Deante Barnes and the unquestionable emergence to the same status of junior Austin Revolinski who is becoming legendary as a three-sports superstar with a thirst for victory and mental toughness that are contagious to teammates after being named first-team all-conference quarterback in a conference boasting several D1 prospects at the position, Belvidere withstood a furious Freeport comeback in the fourth quarter to salt the Pretzels 66-53.

With nine of their fourth quarter 18 points coming from the charity stripe, the Pretzels drew within three points of the Bucs before Revolinski peppered them with 12 of his game-leading 31 points.

Unable to match Revolinski who seems to play his best at the most critical moments of the contest causing homers to refer to him as “Money” because he cashes in whenever opponents want to make a withdrawal, Freeport lost its composure in the closing minutes with intentional fouls, technical fouls, and dirty play without bench control that could have become unseemly if it were not for a competent and decisive officiating crew.

The 6’4″ big body senior, Travis Buckwalter, who is a primed for major college football, was stunningly mobile, efficient, and athletic as he led the Pretzels with 11 points, played from point to point, and kept his competitive composure when others around him were losing theirs.

Revolinski was supported in scoring by Barnes with 14 points followed by rebounding vacuum junior Xavier Dent (seven), senior Eric Munoz (five), and juniors Nate Horton (five), Will Morris (two), and Jacob Rodriquez (two).

Senior Matt Kopp on defense and junior Joey Hernandez at point also served significant roles in the win.  Senior A.J. Fisher and junior Austin Brockmann also saw action.

With Head Coach Aaron Pearson and top assistant Nate Lister keeping the heads of the Bucs in the game while the Pretzels were losing theirs and tapping into one of the deepest rosters in the conference with a rotation that goes 10-deep with all hands on deck, this was an important win despite being so early in the season.

Freeport had knocked off Hononegah 55-52 which has been tapped as a challenger to Auburn and Boylan for the NIC-10 crown and waited for Belvidere to come to town to settle old scores.  This game could be the start of something startling for this edition of Belvidere basketball.

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