LIMA — The game was a defensive battle from the tip-off.
Eventually, the T-Birds’ relentless defensive pressure helped generate just enough offense, as LCC slipped out with hard-fought 51-42 overtime victory over Kalida in boys basketball action Friday night at Edward C. Herr Gymnasium.
Kalida led early on, and then Lima Central Catholic took the lead.
Late in the game, Kalida battled back and eventually forced overtime.
However, LCC was able to stave off Kalida in the extra session to record the thrilling win.
Biggz Johnson led LCC (4-2) and all scorers with 21 points, with 18 of those points coming in the second half. Evan Unruh scored 11 points, including two 3-pointers. Unruh also made five steals at the defensive end. Rossy Moore had nine points and nine rebounds for the T-Birds.
Evan Roebke led Kalida (2-4) with 15 points, 11 coming in the second half. Luke Erhart, a 6-foot, 5-inch forward, had 11 points and nine boards. Gabe Hovest added 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
“We’re still trying to figure out an identity right now,” LCC head coach Frank Kill said. “We know we’re fast and we know we’re quick. But can we play in a half-court set? Kalida is very strong, defensively, and they make you work for everything.
“But I thought our defense kicked in really well, especially in the overtime, and we were able to make our free throws when we needed to.”
Both teams came out with stingy man-to-man defenses.
Kalida jumped out to an early 7-2 lead. However, Unruh hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to cut the deficit to 2, 7-5, midway through the first quarter.
Neither team managed to get out and run.
With 1:05 left to play in the opening stanza, LCC knotted the contest at 11, on an old-fashion 3-point play by Michael Jay Riepenhoff (five points).
That score held up to the end of the first quarter.
LCC claimed its first lead of the game, 13-11, 22 seconds into the second stanza, on a 10-footer from the left corner by Ethan Bowker.
Turnovers plagued Kalida in the second quarter. The Wildcats turned it over nine times in the second period, 11 times total in the first half.
Late in the second quarter, LCC’s defensive pressure jump-started its offense, as the home team pulled out to a 23-17 lead by the halftime break.
In the first half, Kalida connected on 50 percent of its shots from the field. However, the Wildcats managed just 16 shot attempts.
LCC came out of the locker room in a full-court man-to-man press.
Kill said he wants his team to push the tempo and try to create issues with its defensive pressure.
“Anytime we make a basket, we want to go to a full-court press,” he said.
Kalida did cut it to 3, 25-22. However, a 3-pointer by Unruh got the T-Birds rolling.
Hovest kept the Wildcats close. The 6-foot senior scored seven third-quarter points.
It was LCC that turned it over in the third stanza.
The T-Birds committed five turnovers in that eight-minute stretch. Kalida, on the other hand, turned it over just two times.
With less than a minute left in the third quarter, Kalida cut it to 3, 30-27 on a free throw by Roebke. LCC took that 3-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Kalida came out strong in the fourth quarter.
Less than a minute into the final period, Kalida cut it to 1, 30-29, on a reverse layup by Zach VonderEmbse (four points).
Kalida reclaimed its first lead since the first quarter, 31-30, with 4:36 left to play in the game, on a layup by Roebke.
Both teams traded baskets.
Kalida cut it to 1, 37-36, on two free throws by Roebke, with 2:35 left to play in regulation.
With 1:14 left to play, Kalida knotted the game at 39, on a 12-footer from the right corner by Roebke.
LCC had opportunities at the charity stripe in the final moments of the fourth quarter, but could not cash in.
Johnson came up big for LCC in the extra session, as he nailed a 3-pointer, early on. The T-Birds were able to ice the game at the free throw line.
For the game, LCC shot 41 percent from the floor. Kalida countered with 44-percent shooting.
Both teams came away with 24 rebounds.
On the night, Kalida turned the ball over 15 times. LCC turned it over 11 times.
“We always want to push the tempo,” Kill added. “But it comes down to, if we can play in a half-court set. … I thought we did a much better job in the second half, than we did in the first half.”
NOTE: Between the conclusion of the Friday’s junior varsity game and the start of the varsity contest, the 2010 LCC boys Division III state championship basketball team was honored.
The 2010 LCC squad won the state title in legendary coach Bob Seggerson’s final season at the helm.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.