With the boys basketball tournament drawings approaching this weekend, Lima Central Catholic’s 64-54 over Dayton Chaminade-Julienne on Tuesday night at LCC was the Thunderbirds’ last chance to make a statement before teams are seeded and the brackets are filled out.
LCC (17-2) got 25 points from Tre Cobbs and 20 from Dantez Walton to pull away from C-J (14-6) in the final 10 minutes for its fourth straight win since a Jan. 27 loss to Lima Senior.
Whether this victory will have any effect on LCC’s postseason positioning is a question that won’t be answered until the weekend.
But LCC coach Frank Kill definitely liked another kind of statement the Thunderbirds made in the win over Chaminade-Julienne.
“Our intensity and fight are two words I continue to talk about. I thought in that second half we came out with a lot of fight,” Kill said.
At halftime, the two teams were tied up at 30-30 and it wasn’t until a 10-footer by Walton with two minutes left in the third quarter that LCC took the lead for good at 41-39.
It was still a four-point game, 53-49, with 2 ½ minutes to play before LCC pulled away down the stretch.
Maybe most of all Kill liked the intensity he saw on defense. And Cobbs was the leader in that area, too.
Post player Myo Baxter-Bell led C-J with 18 points and 10 rebounds and wing Alan Vest also had 18 points.
But it was the absence of scoring and drives to the basket by point guard Christian Montague in the second half that might have been as big a factor as anything in LCC taking control of the game.
After scoring 11 points in the first half, Montague came up empty in the second half and got off only two shots with Cobbs guarding him.
“We made the matchup in the second half to put Tre on No. 1 (Montague). He was getting to the basket with ease in the first half. We talked about it at halftime that Tre was going to have to step up and control him,” Kill said.
Cobbs took that assignment enthusiastically.
“He got to talking a little bit so I had to show him who I was,” he said, with a smile. “We knew it would come down to who would get the most stops and luckily that’s what we did.”
Kill said, “We played some zone in the first half. We played zero zone in the second half. Our defensive pressure just needed to be a little stronger. Josh (Dixon) and Nick (Taflinger) played really well on No. 5 (Jacob Harrison) and No. 24 (Vest). I thought we defended for 16 minutes without any let-ups.
“There were no second chances in the second half. Offensive rebounds and turnovers is what kept them in the game in the first half. I thought our intensity and fight was at full strength. I saw guys getting rebounds and fighting for rebounds,” he said.
LCC is off until next Tuesday when it plays Spencerville.