VAN WERT — Ouch.
This was a costly victory for Lima Central Catholic.
LCC posted a 65-49 boys basketball victory over Van Wert, but two T-Birds’ starters were injured in the first half.
LCC’s Jake Williams dislocated his right shoulder, the same one he had surgery on and is expected to miss two-to-three weeks. Tre Cobbs suffered a bruised tailbone/hip when he fell hard after a layup, but could return next week.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve lost one player, so 2015 hasn’t been too nice to us so far,” LCC coach Frank Kill said. “Like Ohio State, it’s the next man up mentally. … We had some guys who played four quarters of JV (junior varsity), who had to come in and give us five, six good minutes.”
LCC’s Nick Taflinger led the way with a career-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers and five rebounds.
Taflinger has been getting his shot back this year after battling injuries last year.
“Two days after the state championship I had surgery on my left shoulder,” Taflinger said. “It was my non-shooting shoulder, so it made it a little easier to make the transition to my shot. I worked really hard this summer and finally tonight was my first game of getting my shot to go down.”
Dantez Walton scored 12 points, with six rebounds and three 3-pointers. Cobbs finished with nine points and Ethan O’Connor had six points off the bench.
LCC, which won its first games by an average of 20.5 points, is 7-0. Van Wert is 2-5.
“I was really disappointed, fundamentally, tonight,” Van Wert coach Mark Bagley said. “We competed, we played hard, but you can’t get down 22 points against a great team like LCC.”
Van Wert was led by the driving of Colin Smith, who had 13 points. Freshman Jacoby Kelly had 10 points, while Connor Holliday nine.
LCC’s man-to-man defense and man press forced Van Wert into seven first-quarter turnovers. That helped the T-Birds to a 17-9 lead.
But at the 6:27 mark of the second quarter, Williams left the court and went straight to the locker room. He returned in the second half with his arm in a sling and in street clothes.
“Jake’s probably out two to three weeks with some rehab. He dislocated his shoulder,” Kill said. “It’s an injury he hurt his freshman year and had surgery, but this summer he popped it out again and that’s the reason he didn’t play football. He went and got a rebound and it was a freak accident.”
Then, with 2:59 left in the first half, Cobbs flew through the lane, went airborne for a layup and came down in pain. He left for the locker room and was also in street clothes for the second half.
“Tre landed on his tail bone and it’s a deep, deep bruise on his hip,” Kill. “Hopefully, we’ll get him healthy and try to get him back for Friday.”
LCC led by 20 in the third quarter, but Van Wert cut the margin to 12, 53-41, to end the third.
But Walton scored four quick points, with a 3-pointer, to start the fourth to build the lead back to 16, 59-43.
“I thought Dantez really picked up some leadership points tonight, along with Nick Taflinger. Nick carried us the first half,” Kill said.
LCC led 38-22 at the half, as Taflinger had 14 points at the break, with four 3-pointers.
“Every shot looks good to me, but after I hit that first one I knew it was going to be a good night,” Taflinger said.
LCC won the boards, 28-26. LCC shot 49 percent from the field and was 9 of 17 on 3-pointers. Van Wert shot 40 percent from the field.