ADA — Carey was better than a year ago. But Lima Central Catholic was still much better in the end.
LCC won 84-61 over Carey in a Division III boys basketball district semifinal at Ohio Northern on Thursday night to advance to a Saturday night matchup against Liberty-Benton in the district championship.
A year ago, the Thunderbirds jumped out to a 21-2 lead against the Blue Devils on their way to a 33-point win in a district semifinal.
Carey made sure there was no repeat of that rout when it held LCC to a 35-28 halftime lead. But withering defensive pressure by the Thunderbirds in the third quarter turned the game their way.
LCC coach Frank Kill liked his team's defensive effort the entire second half. But it only took one minute, 40 seconds in the third quarter to put the Thunderbirds solidly in control and on their way to the district championship.
LCC led 46-41 at the start of that run. Less than two minutes later after a half-dozen Carey turnovers, five of which led to scores, the Thunderbirds were up by 22 points and it was a different game.
“I thought through 2 ½ quarters we played them pretty well,” Carey coach C.J. Kin said. “By the time we righted the ship (in the third quarter), it was already gone. We got out of what we wanted to do, and you can't do that against a good team like LCC.”
LCC (20-4) put five scorers in double figures, led by Xavier Simpson with 21 points and Martyce Kimbrough with 18. Tre Cobbs got 16 points, Dantez Walton scored 14 and Cory Stewart had 11 points.
For Carey (18-5), Jared Wentling scored 25 points, Bryan Powers had 15 points and Zach Boes scored 12.
“I thought Carey did a great job the first 16 minutes. They outhustled us. They got a lot of offensive rebounds,” Kill said.
“I thought we did a great job of coming out in the third quarter. We scored 31 points in the third quarter and a lot of that came from our pressure from our guards,” he said. “We had turnovers in clusters and when that happens, good things happen for us.”
Kimbrough said, “That's something we pride ourselves on. Our defense leads to offense.”
Simpson, who had seven steals and seven assists to go with his 21 points, said, “We just decided when we came into the locker room at halftime, we were going to buckle down on defense.”
Kill said Carey's improvement all belonged to the Blue Devils, there was no overlooking of them by LCC because last year was easy.
“They're a better team. They're more experienced team. Last year they were freshmen and sophomores. This year they're sophomores and juniors,” he said.. “They were ready for us and came out with a lot of energy.”
LCC will play Liberty-Benton at 7 p.m. Saturday night in the district championship game at ONU. The Eagles won 57-34 over St. Henry in Thursday night's other district semifinal.
Liberty-Benton 57, St. Henry 34
Liberty-Benton dominated the game from the start, jumping out to an 11-2 lead in the first five minutes and never looking back.
St. Henry cut the margin to three points early in the second quarter, but the Eagles extended their advantage to 11 points, 29-18 at halftime and rolled to their 16th consecutive win.
Nathan Craft, a 6-foot, 5-inch post player scored 19 points, pulled down 9 rebounds and blocked two shots for Liberty-Benton (19-4). Ryan Geise scored 15 points and Adam Cytlak had 10 points.
For St. Henry (17-8), Ryan Mikesell had 15 points. Liberty-Benton shot 59 percent in the game (20 of 34) and St. Henry hit only 26 percent (13 of 49).
LCC 84, Carey 61
Zach Boes 12, Jared Wentling 25, Matthew Holsinger 2, Bryan Powers 15, Laine Wentling 3, Alex Distel 2, Even Rymer 2. Totals: 24-8-61.
Dantez Walton 14, Jake Williams 4, Xavier Simpson 21, Martyce Kimbrough 18, Tre Cobbs 16, Cory Stewart 11. Totals: 29-20-84.
Three-point goals: C – Powers 3, J. Wentling 1, L. Wentling 1; LCC – Kimbrough 4, Simpson 1, Cobbs 1.
Records: LCC 20-4; Carey 18-5
Score by quarters:
Carey 15 13 15 18 —61
LCC 17 18 31 18 — 84