BATH TOWNSHIP – Lima Central Catholic was close to running Bath out of its own gym.
But suddenly, the T-Birds eased up and Bath was still scrapping all over the floor.
LCC’s 26-point started to melt away in the final quarter, but the T-Birds were able to post a 78-67 victory over Bath Tuesday at Bath.
LCC stands 3-1. Bath is 0-4.
“The first two and a half quarters I thought everything was going our way, then I thought it became a full-court game of one-one-one,” LCC coach Frank Kill said. “We failed to play good team defense and I thought they did a good job of beating us down the floor. Their big guys really killed us and that’s one reason they got back in the game.
“We got up big and then we just stopped playing. If you want to be a good team you have to close the door and put teams away.’’
The game was a rematch of the Elida Tip-Off Classic consolation game in which LCC won, 66-45.
LCC forced 12 first-half Bath turnovers and ran out to a 49-26 halftime lead.
LCC led by as many as 26 and held a 67-42 lead after three.
But Bath was not tossing in a towel.
Bath came out of its 2-3 zone and went to a 2-2-1 press.
“When we press it gets our guys in the right frame of mind and gets us going and we play a little big looser,” Bath coach Adam Burris said. “The kids didn’t want to pack it in. They wanted to fight until the finish. … But we can’t give a good team a 26-point lead.’’
The result was the Wildcats ripped off a 16-2 run to start the final quarter and get within 69-58 with 3:41 to go.
“We have some young guys who thought the game was over, but coach said the game is four quarters and that’s a true statement,” LCC guard Biggz Johnson said.
The LCC lead bounced from 15 to 11 to the end.
Johnson led LCC with 16 points.
“We wanted to get the rebound and run and that’s what we tried to do,” Johnson said. “We’re one of the fastest teams around.’’
Nate Stolly came off the bench for 14 points with two 3-pointers.
Rossy Moore had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Rodney Bennett had 14 points and seven rebounds.
“Rodney’s got great potential, he’s 6-5 with decent touch around the rim,” Kill said. “Nate’s (Stolly) had about 10 really good practices and we’re really going to need down the stretch because he can shoot the ball and he can score.’’
Evan Unruh had nine points.
LCC played without starter Michael Jay Riepenhoff and 6-3 sophomore Meshaud Moore, who both were out with the flu.
For Bath, Andrew Stahr had 17 points. Lucas Prichard has 12 points.
Landyn Fleharty scored nine, while Jonah Wauben had eight points and seven rebounds.
The T-Birds got out to a quick 15-5 lead after Johnson hit a 3-pointer and Unruh converted an LCC steal for a fast-break layup.
The T-Birds led 22-9 after the first quarter.
The run-and-steal game prevented Bath from setting up its halfcourt offense and dumping the ball inside to 6-foot-5 sophomore Wauben, who made the Elida Tip-Off Classic all-tournament team.
LCC went on a 13-5 run to start the second quarter to pull out to a 35-14 lead.
Stolly gave the team a boost off the bench with a 3-pointer, a fast-break layup and two foul shots early in the second.
Leading the Bath comeback in the final quarter were Prichard (six points) and Wauben (six points).
LCC forced 20 Bath turnovers. LCC won the boards, 34-25.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.