By PATRICK CASEY
The Paxton Bobcats had four players score in double figures as they held off a pesky group of Freeport Bulldogs to take a 73-68 home victory.
Chad Zessin scored 20 points on the night and overcame a gimpy ankle to help the Bobcats to a 23-13 lead after one quarter of play with Dustin Geoghagan dropping bombs from outside the arc to the tune of 11 points in the opening eight minutes.
Teammate Mason McCormick, who scored 11 points on the night, added six points in the second quarter as the Bobcats hit 14-of-29 shots in the first half of play for a 39-29 lead heading into the locker room.
Marcus Bradley got going in the second half as he scored 14 of his 18 points after intermission with deft three-point shooting for a 54-51 advantage after 24 minutes of the contest.
The Bobcats, who hit on 15-of-18 shots from the free throw line, shot 50 percent for the game as they made 24-of-48 shots from the field. Geoghagan finished the night with 19 points as the Bobcats improved to 4-1 despite struggling with 20 turnovers as a team.
Freeport, which played the game without Collin Myrick (who was in New York City for the Wendy’s High School Heisman ceremony) and an injured Clayton Jones, got 21 points from Austin Woodard as the Bulldogs struggled with their shooting in the first half of play. The Bulldogs managed to hit only 13-of-39 shots from the floor in the opening 16 minutes of play and went 0-for-5 from the free throw line in falling behind early in the contest.
Caleb Piasecki added 16 points with Gabe Moore contributing 14 points and Darrien Looney 13 in the loss. While the Bulldogs dropped the contest, they also dropped a couple of dunks on the Paxton defense, though that did not deter the host squad from claiming their seventh consecutive win in the series.
Freeport was able to keep the ball alive for several second and third chances but could connect on only 26-of-73 shots on offense.
Paxton was able to connect on ten shots from behind the arc to six for the Bulldogs, who made 10-of-17 free throws in the game.
Both teams had a good night on Friday as Freeport traveled to Jay and picked up a 53-46 win over the Royals behind Woodard’s 22 points to improve to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in district play. The Bulldogs crushed Northview on Dec. 6 by a 75-26 count for their first district win. Paxton improved to 5-1 with a 66-43 home victory over Central on Friday night as the Bobcats outscored the Jaguars 44-22 in the second half of play behind Zessin’s 19 points and Geoghagan’s 17.
Team Notes: Paxton coach Jeff Bradley and Freeport coach David Burke both took over the head coaching jobs for their respective teams as the beginning of the 1998-99 season. Paxton owns a 14-9 advantage in that time with the Bobcats earning their seventh consecutive victory in the series.