KALIDA – Defensively, Lima Central Catholic had Kalida right where it wanted them.
However, offensively, the T-Birds could not close the door on the Wildcats.
Despite making Kalida work hard for most of its shots, LCC’s cold shooting from the field paved the way for a second-half surge by Kalida as the Wildcats pulled away for a 49-41 victory in boys basketball action Wednesday night at Richard L. Kortokrax Court.
After turning the ball over 11 times in the first half and falling behind 26-20 by the break, Kalida’s length finally took over, as it out-scored LCC 29-15 in the final two quarters of play.
In that second half, LCC was just 5 of 21 shooting from the floor for 24 percent. The T-Birds shot 28 percent for the game, including just 3 of 19 shooting from behind the 3-point line.
Kalida countered with 38-percent shooting from the floor.
Luke Erhart, a 6-foot-5 sophomore led Kalida (5-2) and all scorers with 15 points, including a perfect 7 of 7 from the free throw line. Erhart also pulled down seven rebounds. Trevor Lambert scored 13 points. Gabe Hovest added nine points, six rebounds and two steals for Kalida.
Shaun Thomas, Rossy Moore and De’Montre Garner each scored nine points for LCC (6-3). Moore also had seven boards and three steals.
“We found a way; and quite honestly, I’m not quite sure how,” Kalida coach Ryan Stechschulte said with a grin. “It was almost what you expect after Christmas. It was pretty sloppy at both ends of the floor.
“They were definitely more aggressive than us in the first half. In the first half, we got clobbered on the boards. But with the veterans we have, they responded.”
LCC jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the game. A 3-pointer by Garner helped ignite the T-Birds.
Kalida kept it close, early on.
However, the T-Birds slipped out with a 14-12 lead by the end of the first quarter, despite making just 4 of 15 shots from the field.
Kalida turned the ball over six times in the first eight minutes, while LCC did not commit a turnover, despite Kalida’s full-court defensive pressure.
For the game, the T-Birds turned the ball over just six times.
LCC held a six-point lead at the halftime break. Rossy Moore led the T-Birds with eight first-half points.
LCC did not commit a turnover until nearly midway through the second quarter, and ended the first half with just two miscues.
Both teams struggled shooting in the first half. The T-Birds were 10 of 33 shooting from the field for 30 percent, while Kalida connected on just 7 of 19 from the floor for 37 percent.
Kalida came out strong to start the second half.
The Wildcats cut the deficit to 2, 28-26, at the 5:25 mark of the third quarter, on a layup by Hovest.
Then, a little more than a minute later, Kalida claimed its first lead of the game, 29-28, on a 3-pointer by Lambert.
However, LCC had an answer.
The T-Birds jumped back out to a 31-29 advantage on a 3-pointer by Thomas with less than three minutes to play in the third quarter.
LCC held a slim 31-30 lead by the third stop. Kalida out-scored LCC 10-5 in that third period. The T-Birds were just 2 of 10 shooting from the floor.
In the fourth quarter, Kalida out-scored LCC 19-10.
A 3-pointer by Hovest with 1:29 left to play, gave Kalida a 42-40 lead.
Then with 1:24 left to play, Hovest converted 1 of 2 from the free throw line to give Kalida a 43-40 lead after making a steal at the defensive end.
Kalida put the game away at the free throw down the stretch. The Wildcats made 12 of 18 from the free throw line in the final quarter.
“When you make 3 of 19 behind the 3-point line and make only 8 of 17 from the free throw line, there’s a lot of shots to be made,” LCC coach Frank Kill said. “We had a lot of good shots. I can’t fault our guys’ effort and attitude. They left it all on the floor. Give a lot of credit to Kalida, because their height really killed us. And that’s two teams we’ve been beaten by, that have length and height. We just didn’t do very well with it. We know we’re going to have games like this, but we just need to make open shots.”
Kalida controlled the boards, 39-25; and did most of its damage inside the paint.
“That’s where we have to get the ball,” Stechschulte said. “That’s where we have the advantage over most teams. We found a way, and it’s a tribute to our kids.”