Boys basketball: LCC turns back Elida

LIMA — Elida and Lima Central Catholic have gone down similar paths, so far this season.

Both teams have struggled at closing out games.

In Saturday’s cross-town matchup in boys basketball at Msgr. Edward C. Herr Gymnasium, Lima Central Catholic took control early on, but found itself in a dogfight down the stretch, as LCC held off Elida for a hard-fought 56-46 victory.

LCC led by as many as 15 points.

However, Elida cut it to four points, twice in the fourth quarter, before the Thunderbirds finally closed it out for the win.

Carson Parker led LCC (5-6) with 14 points, six rebounds and three steals. Parker scored 10 of those points in the third quarter. Matthew Quatman scored 13 points, including two 3-pointers. Parker Judy had 12 points. Freshman guard Willie Foster had eight points and four boards for the T-Birds.

“That’s what we have seen for about 11 games,” longtime LCC head coach Frank Kill said. “We play really well for two quarters. We get a 15-point lead and then we lose our focus. Against a good, experienced team like Elida, you can’t lose your focus. We have to be able to eliminate those mental breakdowns.”

Camden Howard came off the bench for Elida (6-7), scored 10 points and pulled down four rebounds. Tanner Roberts also came off the bench for the Bulldogs, and scored seven points.

LCC led by as many as 15 points in the third quarter. Heading into the fourth quarter, the T-Birds led 44-34.

In the final stanza, Elida cut it to four points, twice.

However, Elida started the game with an early lead.

Jackson Covault (six points) scored Elida’s first four points of the contest, as the Bulldogs took a 4-0 lead.

However, LCC came roaring back and pulled out to a 10-6 advantage, due in part to three Elida turnovers. The Bulldogs turned it over five times in the first eight minutes of action.

The score was knotted twice in the first quarter. The Thunderbirds led 13-8 at the first stop.

Quatman led the T-Birds in the first stanza with six points. Covault led the Bulldogs with four.

LCC pushed the tempo in the second quarter.

At the 6:10 mark of the second, Parker Judy hit a 3-pointer to extend LCC’s lead to 10, 18-8.

The T-Birds were not finished.

LCC led by as many as 11 points. By the break, the T-Birds led 29-21.

For the half, LCC was 9 of 23 shooting from the field for 39 percent. Elida connected on 8 of 21 of its shots for 38-percent shooting.

At the third stop, LCC’s lead was 10, 44-34. The T-Birds led as many as 15 in the third quarter.

Parker scored 10 third-quarter points to lead the way for the T-Birds.

“If you said before the game that we would go into the locker room at halftime up eight and Carson had two points – it’s like, ‘Where are the points coming from?’ I really thought it was an even balance (of scoring) from everybody; and Carson stepped up.”

But Elida was not done.

At the 5:50 mark of the fourth, Roberts hit a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs to cut it to 5, 46-41.

Then, moments later, A’Mari Wash made 1 of 2 shots from the free throw line to make it 46-42.

An inside shot by Brice Engle with 3:52 left to play, made it 48-44.

However, the T-Birds managed to stave off the Bulldogs down the stretch to seal the win.

“I think the unsung hero tonight was Payne Cutlip (two blocks, two steals),” Kill said. “He stepped onto the floor and played some really good defense on their guards.

“Down the stretch, Matthew Quatman hit a big three for us, when we really needed some points. … He (Quatman), too, is a kid who guards their best players. To me, it was such a great team effort tonight.”

For the game, Elida shot 36 percent from the field. LCC connected on 48 percent of its field goal attempts.

Elida committed 15 turnovers, while LCC turned it over 13 times.

LCC held a slight 26-25 edge on the boards.

Elida head coach, and former LCC basketball player Matt Tabler, was pleased with his team’s effort.

“Sometimes the ball just doesn’t fall your way,” Tabler said. “I felt like if we could have put this fight up the last two Friday nights in the WBL (Western Buckeye League), we would have two wins there.

“I thought our kids were resilient. They came out and played tough. It means a little more when it is in town like this – a nice little rivalry. But sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way. It kind of bounced their (LCC) way, and they made the most of it when they got the basketball,” Tabler said.

Added Kill, “This is one of those games that we lost, early on (in the season). This is a great win for us, because Elida is a tough team that knows how to win. They’re well-coached. They scout us well. We just went out and played really good basketball.”

Mark Altstaetter wrote this story for Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.