Assistant Sports Editor
MANCHESTER -- Regardless of the outcome, one streak was bound to end in the first boys basketball game of the new year: Burr and Burton Academy would either push its perfect record to 5-0, or Mount Anthony Union High School would pick up its first win of the winter.
Despite a scintillating second-half performance from senior Aaryngston Bibens, though, the wait continues for the Patriots after a 55-49 loss to the Bulldogs on Wednesday night.
It was the Bulldogs' third straight win over Mount Anthony, which lost its fourth game this season by single digits.
"The film's not going to be pretty but that's high school basketball and we still found a way to come out on top," said BBA coach Dave Shehadi.
Bibens poured on 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half to drive Mount Anthony (0-7) from a 13-point halftime deficit to within five, 46-41, with 3 minutes 20 seconds remaining.
He also amassed 15 rebounds, four steals and four assists, scoring or assisting on all the Patriots' first 25 points of the second half.
"The kid is a great high school player," Shehadi said. "Basketball is a game of runs and we figured he'd do something. Once he got going, you've got to withstand it and keep doing what you've been doing in practice."
Senior forward Jake Stalcup's interior presence was a game-breaker for the hosts as he collected 17 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks. He tallied 10 of Burr and Burton's 12 points as Bibens spurred on the Patriots in the third and fourth quarters.
"Everyone was getting a little nervous, but we picked it up and were able to play some good defense. We took some bad shots but were able to get composed," Stalcup said.
And the Bulldogs put the clamps down after Jason Redden's putback made it a five-point game in the fourth quarter, keeping the visitors off the scoreboard for nearly three minutes.
BBA went 6-of-6 at the line in the final 38.1 seconds to sew up the result, but it was Taylor Fuller's layup with a little over a minute left, after the Bulldogs had burned more than 30 seconds of clock clinging to the five-point edge, that proved decisive.
"That's a backbreaker," Shehadi said. "We work on that, that's important."
Mount Anthony coach Dan Sleeman said his team's late surge was the positive half of the story in the loss.
"Where we are in the season now you try to pick out any positive you can because it's tough on the players, it's tough on the coaches," Sleeman said. "In the second half, I thought, the intensity and energy we came out with was definitely a positive.
"But you need to come out to start the game with that energy."
Early on, the Bulldogs owned the contest. David Shehadi (eight points) hit twice from long range and Joey Shehadi (11 points) added another trey as BBA led 15-7 after one quarter and 27-14 at the break.
"The first half was really good defense, held them to 14 and made Aary work for all his points," Dave Shehadi said. "We didn't shoot particularly well in the first half but the shot selection was pretty good."