ADA – Worthington Christian’s strategy was obvious from the first minute of Lima Central Catholic’s 64-37 win over the Warriors in a semifinal of the Division III boys basketball regional at Ohio Northern on Thursday night.
But so were its deficiencies. Combine LCC’s skills with those flaws and it became a long night very early in the game for Worthington Christian.
LCC (21-4) ran out to a 38-14 halftime lead, helped by forcing 13 first-half turnovers out of a short-handed Worthington Christian backcourt.
Worthington Christian telegraphed its strategy when it held the ball for 57 seconds before shooting on its first offensive possession, then hung onto it for 44 seconds on its second trip down the floor before turning it over.
“We felt like we wanted to do anything we could to shorten the game and go into the second half and maybe have a chance to win. But that didn’t happen,” Worthington Christian coach Kevin Weakley said.
Once LCC got the lead, Worthington Christian couldn’t hold the ball. And it couldn’t hold LCC back.
“After watching them a couple times on film, I thought that pressure from our guards was going to be the difference tonight,” Lima Central Catholic coach Frank Kill said.
LCC will play Ottawa-Glandorf at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Bowling Green Division III regional championship for a trip to the state tournament. LCC won the regular-season game between the two teams 64-44 on Dec. 15.
Worthington Christian (19-7) played without starting point guard and leading scorer Sam Condon, who left for a church mission trip in the Dominican Republic on Thursday morning. The Warriors were also missing three bench players who went on the trip.
Worthington Christian finished with 19 turnovers and LCC had only three.
Kill said he heard about the Warriors’ absentees earlier in the day because the roommate of one of his co-workers at LCC has a brother who is a student at Worthington Christian.
“I heard there was a rumor, but I emphasized to our team that I don’t care who is playing, we have to go out and play the way we want to play,” he said.
LCC played the way it wanted from the start. Martyce Kimbrough led the Thunderbirds’ scoring with 18 points and crossed the 1,000-point mark in his career with a jumper just inside the 3-point line late in the first half.
Xavier Simpson scored 14 points and had seven assists and four steals. Tre Cobbs had 13 points and was big in LCC’s first half run out, when he hit three 3-pointers in a span of a minute, 15 seconds and had five steals.
There was no let-up in the second half when LCC extended its lead to as much as 36 points before pulling the starters for all but the beginning of the fourth quarter.
“Early in the year we did a bad job of getting a lead and keeping a lead,” Kimbrough said. “Now we’re trying to get a lead and step on them.”
The 6-foot senior guard’s journey to a thousand points began with a mid-range jumper for a two-pointer in the Tip-Off Classic as a sophomore.
“It’s a good feeling,” Kimbrough said about the milestone. “But I wouldn’t have made it without my teammates and my coach.”
Worthington Christian was led by Johnny Wordlaw, who scored 13 points.
The Warriors’ Seth Weygandt called LCC “one of the fastest teams we’ve played all year.”
“They kind of caught us by surprise. They were really fast. They played really great defense, really pressured us and got into us,” he said.
Weakley said, “They’ve got some college basketball players, especially at the guard position. When you get to this level, you have to produce at that position.”
At Ohio Northern
LCC 64, Worthington Christian 37
Lima Central Catholic
Dantez Walton 6, Jake Williams 1, Xavier Simpson 14, Martyce Kimbrough 18, Tre Cobbs 13, Nick Taflinger 2, Josh Dixon 2, Cameron White 4, Cory Stewart 4. Totals: 27-5-67.
J.J. Phillips 2, Dominick Holsten 6, Seth Weygandt 5, Johnny Wordlaw 13, John Routzahn 5, Jared Montgomery 2, Jayden Turner 4. Totals: 14-8-37.
Score by quarters:
Three-point goals: LCC —`Cobbs 3, Kimbrough 2; WC —`Routzahn 1
Records:`Lima Central Catholic 21-4; Worthington Christian 19-7.