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Local Sports

March 7, 2014

No. 7 Lewis Cass faces host Manchester at sectional

Host Caston faces Tri-County; Pioneer vs. North White.

Lewis Cass’ boys basketball team survived its sectional opener Wednesday against Wabash at the Class 2A Manchester Sectional.

The No. 7-ranked Kings (18-2) face another tough test tonight against the host Squires, who enter with a 16-5 record.

“It’s two contrasting styles,” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “They play a switching man-to-man defense that looks like a zone. They’re real deliberate on offense. They’ve got three shooters and they’re a team that plays off emotion. They’ll have a lot of emotion with it being a home game for them.”

The Squires are coached by Eric Thompson, who had a very successful run at Peru before he took the Manchester job.

“He’s an excellent coach and he’s got his program set in now,” Kitchel said. “They have a very nice team. They’re young as well.”

The Cass coach added, “We have to play much better than we did against Wabash.”

The Kings survived the Apaches, 74-60, and avenged a sectional loss to them a year ago by going 26 of 33 from the foul line (78.8 percent).

“It tells me we were getting to the rim and making them foul us. We got the lead at the end and ran delay and they had to foul and we knocked our shots down,” Kitchel said.

The Kings had five players in double figures in the win — Austin Keisling (17 points), Blake Hadley (16), Ryan Bixler (16), Owen Ohman (12) and Evan Ohman (10).

Bixler and Owen Ohman hit big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Evan Ohman also came up with key plays down the stretch for the 6-foot-3 freshman.

“As a freshman he came off the bench and hit big free throws and changed shots inside with his length,” Kitchel said.

But the Cass coach overall was not real pleased with the defense played against Wabash.

“We played hard but we didn’t play smart. We gambled too much and allowed them to get to the rim for uncontested shots and our help side wasn’t very good on the back end of it.”

The Kings held off the Apaches’ comeback bid to advance to tonight’s 7:45 p.m. semifinal. The first game of the night features two-time defending sectional champion Northfield (7-13) vs. Oak Hill (10-11) at 6 o’clock.

The final is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Class A Caston Sectional

Pioneer (3-17) faces North White (14-8) in the first semifinal at 6:30 p.m. tonight, followed by Tri-County (15-6) vs. the host Comets (12-9).

The young Panthers have shown improvement down the stretch of the season with wins over West Central and Faith Christian and narrow losses to Delphi and Tri-County. They also had a narrow loss to North White, 61-58, a month ago.

North White has won six games in a row including a 55-48 win over South Newton Tuesday.

Pioneer is the four-time defending sectional champion.

Caston enters 10-1 on its home court. It’s the first sectional the Comets have hosted in 11 years.

“We are comfortable at home,” Caston coach J.R. Howell said. “We told the guys that come tournament time it’s not always the home team or the best team that wins, it’s the team that plays best that night. Our guys have to be ready to play. They’re not going to fall over and let us win. But we are happy it’s at home.”

The Comets lost at Tri-County 62-49 on Feb. 21. The Cavaliers have the 14th most votes in the final Class A poll and defeated West Central 37-26 on Tuesday.

“They’re a very solid team,” Howell said. “Zack Patton is probably one of the better players in the league if not the best. He’s good at getting to the rim and he’s a pretty good shooter. He’s a handful, a big, strong kid. And they have Miller and Hardebeck who hit 3s. Miller obviously hurt us with six 3s.

“We need to be solid defensively and not let a lot of people hurt us.”

Quentin Douglass averages 17.8 ppg to lead the Comets, and Brayton Jellison and Dustin Offenberger have stepped up their scoring at the end of the season, both averaging in the 10-11 ppg range over the last seven.

The final is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Class 2A Rensselaer Sectional

Winamac (12-8) faces a rematch against Rensselaer (13-9) in the 8:45 p.m. EST semifinal tonight.

The Warriors recorded a hard-fought 56-44 win over the Bombers on senior night seven days ago.

The Midwest Conference champion Warriors have finished the season strong, winning seven of their last eight with the only loss being a close one at Class 4A Logansport.

The Bombers advanced with a 40-28 win over Delphi on Tuesday. The Oracles were a defending sectional champion.

Tonight’s earlier semifinal pits North Judson (12-8) vs. North Newton (2-18).

The final is at 8 p.m. EST Saturday.

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