LIMA — It has been almost 10 months since Lima Central Catholic and Crestview passed each other in the hallway of the Ohio State Schottenstein Center.
Both teams were in the process of winning the 2014 state championship.
Much has changed for both teams since then, but the T-Birds had more firepower on Friday night with a 64-58 victory over Crestview in a boys basketball game at Herr Gymnasium.
LCC, which has won 20 in a row, is 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state in Division III. Crestview is 6-4.
Crestview is the defending Division IV state champion, while LCC is the defending Division III state champ.
“I thought our kids played hard, but we’re not happy,” Crestview coach Jeremy Best said. “We’re not here to get moral victories. I thought we played well enough to win, but we didn’t do some things we needed to do that makes a difference between a really good team like they are and a team like us that’s trying to get there.”
Even with only two returning starters from last year, Crestview came out and shot 15 of 21 (71 percent) from the field in the first half. That had the Knights leading 36-34 at the half.
Connor Lautzenheiser finished with 25 points and three 3-pointers to lead the Knights. He had 14 at the half, hitting 6 of 8.
LCC then went from a man-to-man to a 1-3-1 zone and LCC’s 6-4 Dantez Walton began flying around the rim.
Walton ended up leading LCC with 22 points, 10 rebounds and one block. LCC point guard Josh Dixon had 16 points.
“It (the 1-3-1) helped us find the shooters a lot easy,” LCC coach Frank Kill said. “Lautzenheiser’s a special player. We were able to find the shooters and push them farther away from the basket.”
Walton’s 10 third-quarter points sparked the T-Birds and they outscored Crestview 16-6 in the third quarter to take a 50-42 lead.
“In the third quarter we attacked the rebounds,” Walton said. “We put that zone on them, which slowed them down a little bit and made them force shots. We were a little surprised (they shot 72 percent), but we didn’t have our best effort and we can’t do that this season.”
In the fourth quarter, LCC pulled out to a 58-47 lead, before Crestview got within five, 58-53 with 2:06 left.
With a 60-53 lead, Walton had a block, a rebound and started a break, which Ethan O’Connor finished at the other end for a layup. That gave the T-Birds a 62-53 lead with 42 seconds to go.
“I think we wore them down a little bit, too,” Kill said. “Dantez did a great job of controlling the boards and Josh’s (Dixon’s) dribble-drive attack allowed us to get some easy looks.”
Cody Mefferd added 18 points and three 3-pointers for the Knights.
LCC won the boards, 31-18. LCC ended up shooting 62 percent from the field, while Crestview shot 47 percent.
LCC power man on the inside, Jake Williams, returned to action Friday for the first time since Jan. 3 at Van Wert, when he dislocated his right shoulder.
Williams, who played with a brace on his shoulder, played about 10 minutes and had four points and two rebounds.
“We tried to play him eight-to-10 minutes,” Kill said. “To get Jake back on the floor, it’s definitely a boost in the right direction.”
LCC travels to Versailles tonight, then will play Kettering Alter at Kettering Fairmont at 3:15 p.m. Monday in the Flying to the Hoop holiday tournament.