COLUMBUS GROVE — Lima Central Catholic coach Frank Kill found out something about his team Friday at Columbus Grove. The Thunderbirds can play defense nine men deep.
As a result, the T-Birds knocked the Bulldogs from the ranks of the unbeaten with a convincing 51-36 road win.
LCC was without starting center Jake Williams (shoulder) and Dantez Walton went scoreless in the contest after spending large portions of the second, third, and fourth on the bench with foul trouble.
No problem for LCC (8-0) as Ethan O’Connor, Aidan O’Connor, Cam White and Garrett Thomas all provided valuable minutes to the T-Birds’ sterling effort.
The T-Birds looked to push the ball up the court and were successful in the early going with the result being an 18-9 lead after one quarter of play. Josh Dixon with 7 first quarter points paced the LCC quick start.
Columbus Grove (5-1) got a second quarter boost from Logan Diller who posted six points in the period to keep the Bulldogs with-in reach at 29-21 going to the halftime break.
Then came the second half and the LCC defense — which was man to man and 1-3-1 zone in the first half — stepped up big time with a 1-2-2 zone that held Columbus Grove to only eight third quarter points. The T-Birds didn’t let up and continued the defensive effort and held the Bulldogs to only seven points in the final quarter to thwart any hopes of a Columbus Grove comeback.
LCC guard Tre Cobbs scored all 10 points the T-Birds put on the board in the final period as he stepped up and took command of the game.
“Tre gets our offense going when we get stops,” Kill said.
Cobbs and Dixon tied for game-high scoring honors as they both tallied 14 points in the contest. Nick Taflinger and Ethan O’Connor chipped in with nine points each.
“Our defense was smart and under control tonight,” Kill said. “Dixon stepped up and held their leading scorer (Jace Darbyshire who came in averaging 22 points per game) to only 10 points and I thought Ethan (O’Connor) played well. Our zone was crucial in buying us time and our bench play was very good tonight.”
Darbyshire was the only Columbus Grove player to reach double figures in the game and Columbus Grove coach Ryan Stechschulte pointed to the Bulldogs shooting percentage as a key factor in the loss.
“If you shoot 11-of-42 (26 percent) you aren’t going to beat anybody, especially a good team like LCC.” Stechschulte said. “It wasn;t for lack of effort but they (LCC) lock down defensively and we didn’t put the ball in the basket.”
LCC ended the game hitting 54 percent from the field as they connected on 18-of-35 shots from the floor.