ELIDA — Lima Central Catholic wanted to push the tempo.
Bath wanted to slow it down; and for the most part, Bath was successful.
However, LCC managed a few more runs in the second half, en route to a 62-55 boys basketball victory against Bath in the opener of the Mercy Health Tip Off at the Elida Fieldhouse on Friday night.
LCC (1-0) will play Shawnee (1-0) in tonight’s championship game. Tip-off will soon follow the consolation game, which starts at 6 p.m.
Shawnee dominated Elida in Friday’s nightcap, 95-38.
Bath (0-1) will face Elida (0-1) in tonight’s consolation matchup.
Early on Friday night, LCC looked to open it up. However, Bath managed to stay close to the T-Birds for most of the way.
Rossy Moore led LCC with 22 points and eight rebounds. Freshman DeMarr Foster scored 16 points in his high school debut. Bryan Hines had 12 points and three steals for the T-Birds.
Bath also had three players score in double figures.
Jonah Wauben, a 6-foot, 5-inch post player, scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Ian Armentrout scored 17 points, including 9 of 10 shooting from the free throw line. Andrew Stahr scored 12 points and pulled down a game-high 13 boards for Bath.
In the first quarter, the score was knotted three times before LCC managed to pull out to a 21-18 lead by the first stop.
Moore led the T-Birds in the first eight minutes of action with 11 points and four rebounds.
LCC was 10 of 18 shooting from the floor.
“The fact we put up 21 points in the first quarter, was great. … I thought the jitters would be there, with the crowd not as electrifying as it normally is,” LCC head coach Frank Kill said, in reference to the limited crowd at the Elida Fieldhouse.
“I thought that DeMarr Foster came out as a freshman and played extremely well. And Rossy Moore – with his energy, his passion for the game and for his teammates – he did a great job tonight as a senior leader. I thought that (the play of Moore and Foster) kind of set the tone early on.”
Wauben led Bath with 11 first-quarter points.
LCC’s defensive pressure helped force five Bath turnovers in the first quarter.
For the game, Bath turned the ball over 14 times.
The T-Birds turned it up a notch to start the second quarter.
LCC quickly extended its lead to 29-19 within the first two minutes. A 3-pointer by Hines helped jump-start the T-Birds.
However, Bath battled back.
LCC slipped into the halftime break with a 33-28 lead.
For the first half, LCC shot 52 percent. Moore led the way with 15 points and five boards.
Bath shot 31 percent from the floor in the first 16 minutes of action. However, the Wildcats got to the free throw line often, where they made 10 of 12 from the stripe.
Wauben led Bath with 12 first-half points.
Bath opened the second half on a strong note.
The Wildcats cut it to two points early in the third quarter.
That was when LCC shifted to overdrive.
The T-Birds got their transition game going and pushed out to a 51-41 lead by the end of the third quarter.
“If we get the defensive stops and get out into transition, good things will happen,” Kill said. “It (transition game) has been a common thing for us, ever since I’ve been at LCC. But the reality is, if we can get defensive stops, then we’ll be pretty good.”
Bath would not go away.
With 3:30 left to play in the game, Stahr scored down low to cut the deficit to 3, 53-50.
It was also a 3-point game with 2:36 left to play, when Bradyn Fleharty (five points, seven rebounds) connected twice from the free throw line to make it 55-52.
In the fourth quarter, LCC was 7 of 8 from the charity stripe, which helped stave off the Wildcats down the stretch.
For the game, LCC shot 47 percent from the field. Bath shot 34 percent for the night.
“I thought, defensively, we played well,” Bath head coach Adam Burris said. “We tried to mix it up, between man (defense), 1-3-1 and 2-3 (zone defenses). I thought we did pretty good at mixing it up.”
Bath won the boards, 36-28.
“Give a lot of credit to their big man (Wauben) inside, because he was a difference maker,” Kill said. “We didn’t have an answer for him. He just dominated on both ends of the floor.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.