Perry made history. But first it made some adjustments.
The Commodores got the first boys basketball win over Lima Central Catholic in school history when they beat the Thunderbirds 60-54 on Saturday.
Perry’s win was a tale of two very different halves. After falling behind by as many as 10 points early and being down 32-23 at halftime, a different looking Commodores team dominated the second half.
They took the lead for good at 42-39 with just under two minutes left in the third quarter on a three-pointer by Logan Dray, who scored 27 points, including five threes. LCC never got closer than three points the rest of the way.
“I think it was our defense. I think our defense really got us going,” Perry coach Matt Tabler said. “And we got run outs. We’re not a team that is going to break you down in the half court. We’ve got to push the ball up the court and that’s what we did.”
LCC (4-6) couldn’t keep up with Perry (5-6) when it got both those elements working. Or, at least, it didn’t match the Commodores’ second-half intensity, LCC coach Frank Kill said.
“We were out-worked and out-hustled,” Kill said. “To me the first three minutes of the third quarter was the back breaker. Give all the credit to Perry because they came out on fire (in the third quarter) with fire in their game because they wanted it more than we did.
“Logan Dray really killed us because we didn’t find him all game. We didn’t do a very good job of finding him,” he said.
Dray hit his first five shots in the second half, including two from three-point range, and was 8 of 15 overall.
Three other Perry players scored seven points – Jamal Whiteside, Martell White and Chazz Jackson. Matthew Cecala led LCC with 14 points, including four three-pointers.
LCC and Perry had played only once before in boys basketball, a 60-57 Thunderbirds win in a sectional championship game in 1990.
The match-up of the two Allen County schools was billed as the Cross County Shootout and sponsored by Wings and Rings. The plan is for it to become an annual event.
“It was a really big game. We know everybody from the school. There was a lot of pride on the line, it was just a really big game,” Whiteside said.
Dray said, “I think it is pretty special to bring it back every year. I think it’s great.”
Perry shot 52 percent in the second half (12 of 23) after hitting just 26 percent (6 of 23) in the first two quarters. For LCC, it was the reverse, with the Thunderbirds shooting 48 percent in the first half (11 of 23) and 32 percent (7 of 22) in the second half. Perry also had a 28-23 rebounding edge.
Perry’s biggest lead was eight points, 49-41, with 5 ½ minutes to play. LCC got within three points, 57-54, on a pair of free throws by Mark Janowski with 56 seconds left in the game but the Commodores held on for the historic win.
Their hope is that this is the start of something good after coming close but not getting the win several times before Saturday’s game. Perry’s six losses have been by a total of 28 points.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs but we’re getting there, our team chemistry is getting there. I think we’re going to be pretty good,” Dray said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau