SPENCERVILLE — Spencerville built a big lead, watched all but one point of it disappear, but held on for 56-49 boys basketball win over Lima Central Catholic on Friday night with defense and sterling free throw shooting in the fourth quarter.
Dylan Smith scored 16 points, Tyler Koenig had 15 points and Josh Henline had 14 points for the Bearcats (10-1). Billy Bourk led LCC (6-5) with 11 points.
Spencerville jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the game’s first two minutes. LCC cut the lead to one point late in the first quarter but the Bearcats were up 20-13 after the first eight minutes.
They extended their lead to 16 points at 29-13 halfway through the second quarter before the Thunderbirds got the deficit down to eight points, 31-23, at halftime.
Spencerville shot the ball well early and LCC struggled offensively, including turning the ball over 10 times in the first half.
LCC got the lead down to one point, 48-47, with 2:52 to play on a basket by Carson Parker. But that was as close as the Thunderbirds got.
All 10 of Spencerville’s fourth-quarter points came on free throws and Smith scored seven of them.
“It was kind of the way it worked out. We kind of spread it out (offensively) to make them come foul us and they had to. And we got some key stops down the stretch. That was important,” Spencerville coach Kevin Sensabaugh said.
“Offensively, we started great and ended a little bit slower,” he said. “We have struggled from the free throw line but we did not tonight.”
LCC struggled early to get into its offense, which was a big part of the Bearcats’ early advantage.
“Our guys did a great job of recognizing sets and pressuring the ball and getting out in the passing lanes,” Sensabaugh said.
LCC coach Frank Kill said, “We were just out of sync tonight. Spencerville did a good job of defensive game planning and forcing our shooters outside in the first half.
“We buried ourselves early and got to within one point. We had opportunities to gain momentum and when we missed those opportunities it kind of sucked the life out of us. We had opportunities but we just didn’t take advantage of them.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.