By PAMELA SCOTT JOHNSON Sports Editor GOODY, Ky. It is the time of year for basketball teams to show improvement as post-season play approaches. The Belfry Pirates looked good against Tug Valley on Feb. 14 pulling to within four points in the fourth quarter before losing to the top AA team in the state of West Virginia. It seemed the Bucs carried that confidence with them in last nights game with the 71-60 win over a good Shelby Valley Wildcat squad. Belfry jumped on the Valley very quick and a smothering press resulted in a 25-5 first quarter lead. It looked to be a blow out but the Cats gathered their composure and matched BHS point for point in the second as the Pirates took a 39-19 lead at the half. Shelby Valley came back onto the court with a fire lit under their feet and cut the lead to 11 after three quarters. At one point in the third, the Cats cut Belfrys lead to single digits. SV went on a 14-2 run after the break and with 4:16 on the clock, the Pirates led 41-33. The Bucs went on a mini run of their own to push the lead back to 11 going into the final quarter. The fourth Q was a tale of free throws. Shelby Valley went to a full court press and at first, the aggressive defense resulted in Belfry going to the line. As time dwindled down, the Cats were forced to foul to stop the clock hoping Belfry would miss. The Pirates havent really been that good at the line this season but that changed in this game. The Bucs were sent to the line 20 times in the fourth and made good on 14 to seal the victory. Weve been close for a long time, said BHS head coach Randy Casey. Our record doesnt indicate it, but these guys have continued to get better and they have stayed the course - theyve stayed together, theyve stayed coachable. We had a short bench and that hurt us a little bit in the second half. We knew they were going to make a run, Casey continued. We kind of weathered the storm and made a run back. I think weve finally figured out how to win basketball games at the end. Weve been preaching to them all year, lets score off our defense. Thats what won the basketball game for us. Had Belfry not preformed like an all-star team in the first quarter, the outcome of the game could have been very different. Shelby Valley matched BHS in the second and fourth quarters and outscored the Pirates in the third by nine points. The Wildcats were led in scoring by Dalton Richardson who netted 20 points. Logan Lucas added 12 but it was 69 Cody Belter that came alive in the second half for a triple-double. Belter scored 15 points, pulled down 13 boards and swatted 10 shots. Four players hit double figures for BHS. Nick Turner led with 20 points. Brett Charles added 13. Gary Runyon hit 12 including 5-of-6 free throws in the fourth quarter. And Tony Messer recorded another double-double with 12 points and 16 rebounds. Shelby Valley had 38 rebounds and the Pirates grabbed 33. Belfry took better care of the ball giving up the rock 12 times but the Bucs defense forced the Wildcats into 23 costly turnovers. Belfry was 20-of-30 from the line for 66.7 percent and Shelby Valley was a perfect 8-for-8. The Pirates improved to 8-16 with the win and will host Mingo Central tonight in the second meeting of the River Rivalry. Im pleased for my kids, Casey said. Hopefully we can continue tomorrow night against Mingo and then go into the district on a roll. I am very pleased with our effort. We played really hard. SCORE BY QUARTERS SVHS: 5 14 23 18 BHS: 25 14 14 18 INDIVIDUAL SCORING Shelby Valley: Cory Hamilton 6, Logan Lucas 4, Cody Bentley 12, Chandler Rowe 3, Dalton Richardson 20 and Cody Belter 15. Belfry: Brett Charles 13, Nick Turner 20, Tony Messer 12, Josh Robinson 4, Gary Runyon 12, Sean Hurley 8 and Joey Duty 2.