Landon Urcho scores 1,000th point in Bentworth win over Jefferson-Morgan

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 | 11:41 PM

Bentworth’s Landon Urcho needed just four points Tuesday night to reach the 1,000-career point milestone. That was the easy part.

The hard part … the senior guard had to battle foul trouble, playing with four fouls most of the second half, and lead the Bearcats to a 51-45 victory over visiting Jefferson-Morgan in nonsection boys basketball action.

“It means a lot to me to get 1,000, and it has been of my goal for a while,” Urcho said. “I started when I was a freshman, and I knew if I could stay healthy, I would have a chance. I couldn’t have done this without my teammates, coaches and family.”

After hitting a floater in the lane for his first points of the night, Urcho picked up a steal and scored a layup for his milestone moment at the 5:23 mark of the first quarter.

“I am glad I got it over quick,” Urcho said. “I loved the support everyone was showing me, but to be honest, I wanted to focus on the game and get the win. My biggest improvement as a player has been my court vision. I am the point guard and I got to see the whole court all the time.”

Urcho joins a pretty exclusive list for the 1,000 career point plateau and became the first Bentworth boys player to accomplish the feat since Jon Kennedy did it in 2007-08.

“I am just so proud of Landon,” Bentworth coach Bob Kennedy said. “We have a couple of the past 1,000-point scorers in attendance tonight, and I am glad he got to do it at home. He is a quiet leader, and he’s very legit as a player. The kids rally around him. He’s awesome to coach.”

Urcho scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the first half for the Bearcats (3-0). Bentworth was coming off a pair of wins over the weekend at the Mapletown Tipoff Tournament.

Troy Wright tallied 19 points for the Rockets (1-2), who had their struggles offensively in the first half but then battled back into the game with a strong second half.

Houston Gusemen was the other J-M player in double-figures with 14 points and nailed a team-high four treys for second-year coach Brandon Lawless.

Bentworth was the aggressor early on and collected the game’s opening 14 points. Urcho had seven points in the early run, while Coltyn Lusk registered five points.

A free throw by John Woodward broke the scoreless drought for the Rockets with 4:03 left in the first period. Wright added a 3-pointer later on for the visitors, but a late bucket by Ben Hays gave the home team a 16-4 lead at the end of one.

“Our defense dictated that first quarter,” Coach Kennedy said. “I think our kids are comfortable with our defensive sets and are playing as one unit. We contested every shot, and we have a lot better consistency on the boards. Tough defense creates easier offense.”

After the teams exchanged points to start the second stanza, the Bearcats extended their lead to 31-11 with an 11-3 spree. The run was started with a shot from beyond the arc by Chris Harper, who scored all eight of his points in the second quarter. Urcho had the other eight points.

Bentworth carried a 36-17 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, the momentum shifted towards the Rockets as they started to hit their shots and the Bearcats had two starters in foul trouble.

J-M held an 18-6 scoring edge in the third and nailed four treys to trim the deficit down to 42-35 going into the final frame.

Ross Skerbetz grabbed the first three points of the fourth for Bentworth, but J-M cut the lead to 47-41 after two straight buckets by Wright.

With the Rockets pressing the Bearcats in the final minutes, Hays was able to find space for the home team and delivered a pair of fast-break hoops to push their lead to 51-41.

J-M scored the final four points of the night, but their rally fell short as Bentworth started the season with its third straight victory.

“A lot of things didn’t go our way in the second half, but we hung onto the win,” Coach Kennedy said. “We didn’t lose our focus and crumble under the pressure. It was ugly, but the kids played through it. I don’t like to call a lot of timeouts. I want the players to adjust on the floor on their own.”

Both teams continue nonsection play late this week, as Bentworth hosts Avella on Friday and J-M visits Waynesburg on Thursday.

Urcho, who also plays keeper for the soccer team and is a potent bat in the baseball lineup for the Bearcats, is excited for what the rest of the season brings Bentworth’s way.

“This was a nice win, and it feels good to be 3-0,” Urcho said. “We won with our defense, and we kept our composure in the second half. A lot of kids stepped up in that fourth quarter. We have a nice group, and I think our depth is a big key for us.”

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