HARROD — Prior to its game against Allen East, the Lima Central Catholic team donned T-shirts remembering longtime local announcer Aaron Matthews who passed away a year ago.
And while there were not many “boom-shakala” moments for the T-Birds, Matthews, a staunch LCC supporter, would have smiled to see LCC post a 66-58 victory over the Mustangs in a nonleague affair Tuesday night.
With the win, LCC improves to 3-1 on the year and Allen East, which dropped its last three, fell to 2-3 on the year.
Going into the second half, Allen East, with some precision perimeter shooting, held a 36-32 lead going into the second half, but thanks to a strong defensive effort, the T-Birds turned the tide and led by four, 45-41, with eight minutes to play.
In that pivotal third stanza, the T-Birds outscored the Mustangs 13-5.
Despite some late scoring flurries by the Mustangs in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 54-53, with 3:40 left in the game, Allen East was never able to regain the lead. In the final minutes, LCC was 9 of 14 from the free throw line.
“It is a game of 32 minutes and in the first 16 we didn’t play that well,” LCC head coach Frank Kill said. “I don’t know if this was a hangover from Sunday or what. The last time we played Allen East was in the sectional and we took the ‘L.’ This was one of those bounce back games we were looking at and we were hoping to come out with more energy.
“Fortunately, the game is four quarters and we came in and regrouped at halftime and I just thought our guys came out with more energy and more focused on what we wanted to do.”
Kill said the team focused on additional defensive pressure on Keaton Lehman who in the first quarter had 4 treys and 16 points in the first half but managed just two more points in the second half for 18 to lead the squad. Teammate Jacob Hershberger chipped in 14 and kept the Mustangs close with 10 of those points in the final two quarters. Keaton Miller added 12 points.
In the first half, Allen East hit six 3-pointers in the first half and three in the second with none in the third period.
“We were a little impatient in the third quarter,” Allen East head coach Gabe Young said. “We would have one pass and a shot and we really didn’t run our offense very well. Defensively, we didn’t stop them from getting to the basket so that was about the third quarter in a nutshell.
“We did come back in the fourth quarter but it is because we did things better. We moved the basketball and we weren’t settling for jump shots. We were getting to the basket and it was what we did in the first half but didn’t do in the third quarter.”
LCC’s offense was led by freshman Willie Foster who had 16 points to lead the T-Birds, with 11 of those coming in the first half.
T-Bird big man Billy Bourk had another outstanding night as he produced a second straight double-double outing with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Ten of those points came in the fourth quarter. Defensively, Bourk had five blocked shots.
“Billy Bourk was just awesome,” Kill said. “He was there defensively and more importantly he was scoring layups. We only made long shot in the second half and that was a three by Michael Taflinger which was big but today we made our money in the paint and the free throw line. Those are the tings we have to continue to focus on.”
LCC’s Matt Quatman finished with 11 points
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.