ELIDA — For three quarters, Lima Central Catholic’s Carson Parker struggled to score and had two points but the Thunderbird sophomore scored 13 fourth quarter points, including five in the final 30 seconds, to help LCC push past Elida, 53-47, Saturday night
Parker finished with 15 on the night.
With the win, LCC improves to 7-5 overall and Elida drops to 3-10 on the year.
“It was just a matter time,” LCC head coach Frank Kill said. “Carson Parker is a mismatch for a lot of teams, and he rebounds and he defends really well, and he was struggling there for a while and was stuck in the mud waiting to get his wheels turning and once he got them going he was able to keep us going.”
In the tip-off classic this year, Elida lost to LCC 75-65 and it was a much closer game and Bulldog head coach Matt Tabler said this team is making strides in the right direction.
“We are getting there,” Tabler said. “That was youth at the end. We didn’t know how to close a game out but I wouldn’t have done it any different, and I told our kids in the locker room that you have to learn from this so you can either pout about it or learn from it because all of these games are going to pay dividends in the next two or three years and learning how to finish games.
“It is something that comes with experience, and we just don’t have it right now but you know what, I wouldn’t trade this team for anybody. They fight. They claw. Anytime you want to yell at them they just do something good whether it is a hustle play like diving on the floor or something else. I love this team. We are clawing through adversity. This is a six-game losing streak, and we are going to go through a tougher part of our schedule but we are going to see what kind of character we have.”
Tabler pointed out that the Bulldogs’ defense has slowly improved.
“A lot of people thought me coming over here was that we were going to score a lot of points,” Tabler said. “The first thing you have to do before you score points is play defense and that is what we are doing. I attribute this to not the turnovers at the end of the game. I attribute it to the lack of defensive stops. I think we got caught looking at that scoreboard and again that is youth.”
Going into the final eight minutes, Elida owned a 35-32 lead after David Etzkorn popped a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter and the Bulldogs had the momentum going their way.
Elida held onto that lead and had a 46-40 lead with a little under three minutes to play but then LCC made its move. The Thunderbirds went on to outscore Elida 13-1 thanks to Parker, some key rebounds and solid defense where the Bulldogs forced big turnovers to secure the victory.
LCC’s final offensive thrust began with some big buckets from Billy Bourk who’s put back knotted the score at 46 with just under a minute left in the game. After a made free throw by Elida, the Thunderbirds missed an opportunity to score but on the ensuing possession, freshman Matthew Quatman made a steal but could not convert the layup. However, LCC retained possession.
On the inbound play, Parker got the ball and worked his way in for a basket to give LCC a 48-47 lead with 27 seconds left and then followed it up by securing a steal and going in for the layup and getting fouled. After hitting the free throw, the T-Birds were up 51-47 with 24 seconds left and time then ran out on the Bulldogs.
Bourk finished the night with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Unruh added 10 points.
“Billy did a great job of owning the boards, and he kept a lot of things alive for us,” Kill said. “It was a grind. Beating Elida at Elida is not easy. They are a young and youthful team. They are going to be good in the future but they are just going through some growing pains right now and coach Tabler I know he is going to have them back in the gym and ready to play and that is what they do and that is what we do. We move onto the next game and get ready for Lima Senior.”
Kill added that he thought one of the biggest keys was finding a player to guard X’zorion Island and Quatman provided that for the T-Birds.
“He really came in and gave us some good minutes and came up with probably one the biggest defensive plays there with one minute to go, ” Kill said. “He steals the ball and doesn’t exactly execute the layup but we retain the ball on the possession and that was one of the biggest plays of the game.”
For Elida, Etzkorn, who came off the bench, poured in 15 points.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.