by Rick Conrad
For the Pharos-Tribune
Lewis Cass played host to Winamac on Saturday night in Walton, and it was a close one. For awhile that is.
With the Kings taking control of the game midway into the second quarter, the hosts went on to a 75-50 win over the Warriors.
Both teams traded blows throughout the opening quarter before the Kings squeezed out a 14-13 lead after one.
The Warriors fell behind by four points before going on a 5-0 run to take a 18-17 lead. That’s when things went south for Winamac.
When the Kings turned up the defensive pressure they started creating offense for themselves and began creating headaches for the visitors. The result for the Kings was a 16-0 run that completely deflated Winamac. The Warriors were held scoreless for five minutes of the second until Zach Shidler ended the drought with a free throw at the :52 mark. Cass took a 35-21 lead into the break.
“I can’t fault our effort,” Winamac coach Kyle Johnson said. “What I can fault is our lack of execution. That was terrible and something we need to work on. But give Cass credit. When they play that way together they’re a tough team to match up with.”
The second half was all Lewis Cass as the Kings built their lead to 57-35 after three before going on to the big win with reserves playing significant minutes in the fourth quarter.
A big boost for the Kings was the cerebral play of freshman Ryan Bixler. The frosh played well defensively and often was on the floor going after a loose ball.
“Bixler played a heck of a game, you really have to give him a lot of credit,” Cass’ Blake Hadley said. “Then when the subs and JV guys came in they never missed a beat.”
Austin Keisling led the Kings (8-8) with a game-high 22 points while Jordan Miller and Ryan Bixler each added 12.
“We needed to come out with a lot of energy after the loss we had [Friday at Peru],” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “We accomplished that. We were able to score off their turnovers and that was the difference in the game, really. Nothing more than effort.”
Shidler led Winamac (5-9) with 21 points while Evan Rose added nine and Adam Gruenig pitched in eight.
“This was a rough one, especially after losing [Friday] to North Judson,” Shidler said. “I just don’t think we were aggressive enough in any part of the game, and we didn’t do it [Friday] either. You just can’t play like that against a team like Lewis Cass.”