KALIDA — Basketball coaches preach to their teams the importance of getting out to a quick start.
Spencerville did just that in Friday’s nonconference boy’s match-up at Kalida.
However, Kalida’s strong finish was enough to overcome a 17-point first-quarter deficit, as Kalida pulled away in the second half for a thrilling 51-46 victory over Spencerville.
Spencerville came out aggressive from the opening tip, racing out to a 20-3 lead within the first five minutes of the game. By the end of the first quarter, Spencerville led 22-6. Zach Goecke led the Bearcats with 15 points (including three 3-pointers) in the first quarter. Goecke went on to lead all scorers with 24 points, and also had a team-high 10 rebounds.
However, Kalida (5-2) regrouped and pecked away at the deficit, cutting the Spencerville lead to 31-24 by the break.
Kalida trailed 39-34 by the end of the third quarter.
Then, with 3:47 left to play in the game, Kalida claimed its first lead, 45-44, on a 10-footer by Devin Kortokrax (17 points, 11 rebounds).
Spencerville (4-3) had its opportunities at the charity stripe in the final stanza. However, the Bearcats were just 1-of-6 from the free throw line in the final eight minutes of action.
“They came out with really good energy,” longtime Kalida coach Dick Kortokrax said about Spencerville’s strong start Friday night. “I mean, they were ready to play. They were doing everything very well. So, I have to give them credit.
“We knew they were a very good 3-point shooting team. They were shooting almost perfect (in the first quarter). I could have called quite a few timeouts. But, I felt that even though they do a good job with the threes, I felt that I just had to wait and see if they were going to continue that.”
After starting out the game, hitting 7-of-14 (50 percent) from the field in the first quarter, Spencerville cooled off and ended the game shooting 30 percent from the floor (16-of-53).
Kalida, after connecting on just 2-of-11 (18 percent) from the floor in the first stanza, finished the game shooting 44 percent, on 19-of-43 shooting.
“Each time they hit a three, it was starting to hurt our kids’ confidence,” Coach Kortokrax said. “We told them they just had to keep playing good defense. …We have to box out and rebound. … We have to take care of the basketball, and keep taking good shots.”
Spencerville dominated the boards in the first quarter, 11-5. However, Kalida regained control, outrebounding the Bearcats 29-22 the rest of the way.
Along with Kortokrax scoring in double figures for Kalida, Brandon Verhoff added 10 points.
Along with Goecke, Mason Nourse registered double figures for Spencerville, scoring 10 points. Nourse also pulled down six rebounds and dished out five assists.
“I just don’t think we made a bunch of shots,” Spencerville coach Kevin Sensabaugh said. “We got close to the rim, and we missed. We got free throws, and we missed. We got wide open threes, and we missed. I don’t think we’re that bad, defensively. We only gave up 51 points, and we had to foul at the end to give up that. We just didn’t make shots.”