BELLVILLE — His season statistics aren’t especially overwhelming, which suits Clear Fork’s Brennan South just fine.
The Richland Bank Athlete of the Week, South scored 21 points as the Colts remained unbeaten in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference action with a 62-58 win over Shelby last week.
A junior guard, South scored the go-ahead bucket on a driving layup with 2:48 remaining. He received an inbounds pass after a timeout and raced the length of the court before converting in traffic for a 53-52 Clear Fork advantage. The Colts, who had led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, never trailed again.
“I just thought our team needed a basket,” South said. “Everyone relies on me and I rely on everyone else, too. If everyone is not there (for each other) we’re not finishing that game.
“We don’t care who scores as long as we get the win. As long as everyone is getting involved and scoring, then everyone is happy and it’s all good.”
The Colts (11-2, 8-0) have relied on that unselfish, team-first approach all season. South is the team’s leading scorer, but averages a pedestrian 13.4 points a game. As a team, Clear Fork averages an MOAC-best 16.1 assists a game. South ranks third in the MOAC, averaging 3.4 assists a game, with teammates A.J. Blubaugh (3.2) and Jared Schaefer (3.1) not far behind. In last week’s win over Shelby, Schaefer had 14 points while Jay Swainhart added 10. Blubaugh averages 10.8 points a game.
“Everyone contributes and we don’t know each night which one it’s going to be,” Clear Fork coach Steve Bechtel said. “They want to win and they know buying into that strategy of sharing the basketball is the way to make it happen. They love it and they thrive on it.”
The Colts own a two-game lead over Pleasant in the MOAC standings as the second round of conference play begins. The Spartans won the MOAC title last year with Clear Fork finishing second.
With South and teammates sharing the wealth, Bechtel sometimes catches himself spectating more than he ought to.
“Sometimes I get caught watching because it is enjoyable,” Bechtel said. “They make basketball so much fun with the way they share the basketball and push the basketball and find the open guy.
“I’m a coach, so I’m going to nitpick. I’m going to get on them for every little mistake, but it is very enjoyable to be around them on and off the court.”
The Colts are in the notoriously difficult Division II Madison district tournament with the likes of Mansfield Senior and Lexington. Of the 15 teams in the tournament field, 10 entered the week with a record of .500 or better and five have 10 or more wins.
“Everyone knows how tough it is,” Bechtel said earlier in the season. “There are a lot of great teams in the field.”
Clear Fork is among them. The Colts had their nine-game winning streak snapped at Triway earlier this month but have won back-to-back games going into Tuesday’s backyard rivalry game at Fredericktown.
So what’s been the secret recipe to this year’s success?
“We’re all family, so everyone is sticking together,” South said. “Even on our days off we’re all still hanging out and having fun and building that chemistry.”