By BRYAN GASKINS Kokomo Tribune
---- — KOKOMO — Lewis Cass’ boys basketball team made its debut as a Class 2A Top 10 team Tuesday and promptly found itself in a dogfight.
Owen Ohman hit a corner 3-pointer with 1:50 remaining to break a 58-all tie and No. 10 Cass went on to beat Northwestern 69-64 in a Mid-Indiana Conference game.
“We cracked into the Top 10 in the AP poll this week and that puts a big bull’s-eye on your back when that happens so we’re going to get everybody’s best shot for the rest of the way out,” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “We did a great job there at the end to finish the game.”
Ohman finished with 13 points. The junior guard was perfect from the field — 5 of 5 overall and 3 of 3 from 3-land.
“Owen Ohman was just huge for us. ... That one he hit there toward the end just was a back-breaker,” Kitchel said. “He’s had some games this season where he’s hit big shots like that. That’s probably the biggest one of his career. It was for this season, for sure.”
Austin Keisling had a big game as well for the Kings. He scored a game-high 28 points, grabbed five rebounds and assisted on Ohman’s go-ahead 3-pointer.
The Kings improved to 12-2 overall (4-1 MIC) following their 10th straight win. They already have topped their win totals from the previous five seasons.
Northwestern (6-7, 2-2 MIC) gave Cass fits with 63 percent shooting from the field overall and 58 percent shooting from 3-land. But the Tigers’ upset bid was spoiled by 21 turnovers — including 12 in the second half.
“Probably the story of the game is the turnovers,” Northwestern coach Jim Gish said. “Twenty-one possessions, we don’t get a shot. We’re shooting the ball at a nice clip. We got our percentage up shooting the ball, which is something we really focused on [Monday], but then we didn’t get enough shots because of our turnovers.
“We had a game plan that we implemented in one day and I thought the kids did a good job with the game plan, but you can’t give the ball to the other team 21 times. I thought we did a nice job defensively, but then some of those turnovers lead to easy baskets for them. It just makes life hard if you’re going to give the ball to the opposition that many times.”
Cass jumped to a 15-7 lead in the opening quarter, but Northwestern closed the quarter on a 12-0 run fueled by four 3-pointers, two each from Graham Ortmann and Blaine Brutus with Ortmann beating the buzzer for a 19-15 lead.
Northwestern kept the lead throughout the second quarter, but Keisling kept Cass in the game. He scored 13 points in the quarter, beating the halftime buzzer with a 3-pointer to bring the Kings within 32-30.
Ohman hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the third quarter to give the Kings a 37-34 lead and they went on for a 50-43 advantage at the close of the quarter.
Cass had a 58-54 lead with 3:00 left in the final quarter. Ortmann scored off a nice backdoor cut to bring the Tigers within 58-56 at 2:37 and after Ohman missed the front end of a one-and-bonus, the Tigers’ Logan Galbraith knotted the score with a layup at 2:00.
Ohman promptly made amends for his missed free throw by burying the go-ahead 3-pointer at 1:50.
Northwestern shot itself in the foot on each of its next two possessions. Ortmann missed the front end of a one-and-bonus at 1:35. After Cass’ Blake Hadley scored on a drive for a 63-58 lead at :55.9, the Tigers committed a turnover. Hadley went to the line at at :23.9 and made the first attempt. He missed the second, but teammate Ryan Bixler grabbed the board and was fouled. He made both attempts for a 66-58 lead.
The Tigers went down fighting. Riley Hudson scored on a putback at :14. The Tigers then forced a five-second violation and Ortmann followed with a hoop-and-harm 3-point play to bring the Tigers within 66-63 at at :08.6 — but Hadley hit one of two free throws and Evan Ohman came up with a steal to seal the Kings’ win.
Ortmann finished with 24 points to lead the Tigers. He was 5 of 8 from 3-land. Brutus added nine points and post player Keagan Downey had eight.
MIC BOYS STANDINGS MIC All Ham. Heights 3-0 10-3 Cass 4-1 12-2 Western 4-1 9-4 Northwestern 2-2 6-7 Peru 2-3 5-10 Eastern 1-2 2-10 Taylor 1-3 4-8 Maconaquah 0-5 4-9