LIMA — Dakota Mathias strapped Elida to his back and took the Bulldogs for a fourth-quarter ride.
But even with his 19 fourth-quarter points, it wasn’t enough for Elida.
Lima Central Catholic’s balanced offense held off Elida 57-55 in a non-league boys basketball game Tuesday at Monsignor Herr Gymnasium.
LCC led by 14 in the first half and by 39-26 with 2:12 left in the third quarter. Mathias led the Elida charge back by scoring 19 of his 24 points in the final quarter.
Elida got as close as two points 57-55 on a Mathias’ 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Darius West led the T-Birds with 16 points and five rebounds. Tre’on Johnson had 15 points and two 3-pointers. Freshman Xavier Simpson had 10 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final quarter.
LCC’s Jake Williams added eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Williams was coming off a nine-rebound game in a win against Bath on Saturday.
LCC is 14-1 and has won 14 straight since losing to Elida 68-63 in the Tip-Off Classic. Elida is 9-6.
“We’re getting better as a team.” LCC coach Frank Kill said. “Fortunately, we’re not a one-man show. We have five guys who can step on the floor and do a lot of different things.”
LCC used its 1-2-1-1 full-court press and running game to bolt out to a 25-11 lead. Johnson hit a 3-pointer and a 15-footer to help key an 11-0 run in the second quarter.
“We were looking to push the ball,” Johnson said. “We’re usually a faster team (than Elida) and we used that to our advantage. We were running our sets and getting the secondary break and getting layups.
“We felt we were deeper than they were, and we had more positions that could be filled. We wanted to use that to our advantage.”
LCC took a 39-30 lead into halftime. At the break, Mathias had only three points on 1 of 6 shooting. West watched him most of the half, with occasional help from Simpson.
“There was a very strong verbal discussion that I think got to the kids a little bit,” Elida coach Denny Thompson said of his halftime talk. “They outplayed us in every aspect of the game in the first half. … I thought that was the worst half of basketball I’ve seen from an Elida team in quite a while.
“I think it’s a credit to our kids to be able to come back in the second half on the road against a team that’s really good and make it the game that it was.”
From the 2:12 mark of the third quarter to 4:17 left to play, Elida went on a 14-3 run to close to 42-40. During that run, Mathias scored nine points and Louis Gray hit a big three.
Mathias’ pair of free throws kept Elida within two 44-42 with 3:41 left.
Simpson came down and hit a step-back 3-pointer to give LCC a 47-42 lead.
“It was set up to be a dribble drive and kick (for Simpson), but they played off of him and for him, as a freshman, to step up and do that, that’s a nice sign,” Kill said.
Martyce Kimbrough (seven assists, six points) scored four straight points and it was 51-42 LCC with 2:01 left.
LCC won the boards, 33-29. Elida shot 42 percent from the field and was 8 of 23 on 3-pointers. LCC shot 46 percent and was 3 of 12 on threes.
In Elida’s win over LCC in the Tip-Off, Mathias went for 42. So Mathias’ late burst was hardly a surprise.
“The fact that we contained him for three quarters was a blessing and give a lot of credit to Darius West and our help defense,” Kill said. “We made everything tough on him. He’s a great player.”