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Bush boosts Burrell to victory over Apollo-Ridge

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 10:58 p.m.
Burrell's Cole Bush guards Apollo-Ridge's Alex Smith during the teams' Section 1-AA game at Burrell on Tuesday Jan. 8, 2013. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Burrell's Cole Bush evades Apollo Ridge's Josh Reynolds during the basketball game at Burrell High School on Tuesday January 8, 2013. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Apollo Ridge's John Reynolds lines up a shot between (from left) Burrell's Jake Prefling and Ryan Puchak during the basketball game at Burrell High School on Tuesday January 8, 2013. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

Cole Bush had plenty of dominating performances in his football career at Burrell, carrying defenders for extra yardage and scoring touchdowns in bunches.

But the senior had never had a game with such authority on the basketball court — until Tuesday night, when he had Apollo-Ridge wishing it could tackle the 6-foot-2, 220-pound forward.

Bush scored a career-high 33 points — on 15-of-17 shooting — and grabbed 19 rebounds as Burrell dominated the fourth quarter on the way to a 55-33 victory over Apollo-Ridge in a Section 1-AA clash in Lower Burrell.

“He was a monster,” Burrell coach Rob Niederberger said.

Apollo-Ridge had almost the same stat line as Bush: 33 points and 21 rebounds.

Bush scored 21 straight at one stretch for Burrell (9-2, 3-0), which led, 12-10, after the first quarter and 23-21 at the break.

The game was tied, 31-31, heading into the fourth quarter after a 9-0 run by Apollo-Ridge. But that's when Burrell flattened the Vikings (9-2, 3-1). Bush scored 14 in the final frame as Burrell outscored them, 24-2.

“I didn't think I had that many points,” Bush said. “We knew they didn't really have size, so we knew we could have a big game inside. If we play like that, we feel like we can beat anybody.”

Bush's performance was head-turning, but it wasn't like he was taking low-percentage shots. He fired mostly from the low block, scoring on putbacks and short turn-around jumpers.

“When you shoot the ball from where he was shooting it, you're going to make 15 of 17,” Apollo-Ridge coach Matt Gourley said. “We haven't seen a player like him. You look at what he did in football. He is a rare specimen.”

Burrell lulled up-tempo Apollo-Ridge into a half-court offense and forced the Vikings to take ill-advised shots. The result for a team the came in averaging 71.7 points was an ice-cold, 12-for-53 shooting night, including 4-for-24 from 3-point range.

“To their credit, they slowed us down,” Gourley said. “We didn't want to play that type of game. We didn't make shots, and that hurt us.”

“We have some bigger guys, and we can pound it inside,” Niederberger said. “Apollo-Ridge plays five guards, and they're a good team. We can run, too. Everyone thinks we're a grind-it-out team, but we can play both ways. Our top eight guys all contributed and showed what kind of shape they're in.”

Lucas Burrell led the Vikings with 14 points, and Josh Reynolds added 11.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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