NORTH MANCHESTER — The Lewis Cass Kings are back on top in sectional play.
The seventh-ranked Kings took their opponents’ best shots but still came out on top.
The Kings captured their first title in seven years with a 69-53 win over Oak Hill Saturday night at the Class 2A Manchester Sectional.
It was the Kings’ ninth sectional title and first since they went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
For four-year starter Austin Keisling the championship was especially sweet.
“It’s been awhile. We’ve struggled. We’ve had our downs since 2007 but we brought it back. We brought it back to Cass,” he said. “So we’re going to put that up on our sectional list and hopefully put it on our regional list.”
The Kings (20-2) face No. 3 Wapahani (22-1) in the noon semifinal next Saturday at the Lapel Regional. Fountain Central (15-7) will play Tipton (14-8) in the earlier semifinal.
The Kings came out of the gates on fire, hitting 5 of 7 3-pointers in the first quarter to jump out to a 21-10 lead after one.
Ryan Bixler hit two 3-pointers in the opening frame and Keisling, Owen Ohman and Blake Hadley added one apiece to shoot Oak Hill (11-12) out of its 2-3 zone early.
The Kings cooled off a bit in the second quarter and the Golden Eagles started taking better care of the ball to get themselves back in the game. But Bixler ended the half with a steal and layup and then another trifecta to give the Kings a 37-26 lead at the half.
Bixler finished with a game-high 27 points and coach Jon Kitchel said it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We talked yesterday about Bixler having a bad game and I knew he wouldn’t have two back to back, and he was a man tonight,” Kitchel said. “He not only knocked the shots down, he was really good on defense. We had him guarding their best player [Gerritt Taylor].”