LIMA — The string stops at two.
Lima Central Catholic made sure it would not lose three in a row to Bath.
LCC knocked down its free throws and cranked up its defense to post a 56-49 boys basketball victory over Bath on Saturday at Monsignor Herr Gymnasium.
Bath won both games over LCC last year, by two in the Elida Tip-Off Classic and by 11 in the regular season.
“Before the game we said we didn’t want to experience what we experienced last year,” LCC guard Martyce Kimbrough said. “This was somewhat of a give back from last season.”
LCC, which has won 13 in a row, is 13-1. Bath is 11-3.
Rebounding and defense were the biggest keys to the victory for LCC. But the T-Birds also hit 16 of 22 at the foul line, including 7 of 9 in the final quarter.
Bath nudged ahead 47-46 on a Conner Rockhold 3-pointer with 2:04 to go. But LCC ripped off a 9-0 run to pull out to a 55-47 lead with 37 seconds left.
Kimbrough gave LCC the lead to stay, 48-47, on a layup with 1:55 left.
During that key run, LCC hit 7 of 8 at the line with Kimbrough hitting 4 of 4 and Jake Williams making 3 of 4.
“We knew in these next few weeks it was going to come down to a free-throw game,” LCC coach Frank Kill said.
Kimbrough led LCC with 16 points and five rebounds. Darius West added 12 points and five rebounds. Williams had eight points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Taren Sullivan led Bath with 16 points, with two 3-pointers, and eight rebounds. Cole Chambers had nine points, while Conner Rockhold had seven points.
Bath’s offense didn’t get into its usual up-and-down flow with open 3-pointers and a string of driving layups by Conner and Logan Rockhold.
“They are very athletic and quick and their quickness on defense made it hard for us to get into any sort of flow on offense,” Bath coach Doug Davis said. “We had to run more plays tonight than we have in quite a while because our motion wasn’t getting good open looks.”
Kill said the key was never leaving the Bath shooters to help out on someone driving through the lane.
“We weren’t going to help much. We were going to pressure and it was basically going to be a one-on-one game,” Kill said. “We knew if we helped and they kicked (the ball) and they got their feet set, they’re that good and were going to have healthy looks at the basket.”
Bath shot 42 percent from the field and 6 of 18 on 3-pointers. LCC shot 42 percent and was 4 of 5 on threes.
“The Rockholds are great basketball players and all five guys who play for Bath can all shoot so we had to play close and tight defense and couldn’t let anybody get to the basket,” Kimbrough said. “Our key was to play tight defense and contain our man.”
LCC led 18-13 after the first quarter, but Bath took a 26-25 lead at the half.
LCC outrebounded Bath, 34-22 and 14-6 on the offensive glass.
The game went back-and-forth in the third quarter, with Bath taking a 41-40 lead into the final quarter.
Kimbrough felt winning a tight game will help out in the future.
“We need to get prepared for what we’ll see later on,” he said.