By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — WALTON – Lewis Cass’ boys basketball team wasn’t going to let this big win slip away.
The Kings ended a long losing streak against Logansport with an 86-68 victory over the Berries on Wednesday night.
The Kings (7-2) ended a 10-game losing streak against the Berries (8-4). It was their first win since 2008, the final year of the Basil Mawbey era.
The Kings nearly ended the skid early this year in Cass County Tournament play but let a fourth-quarter lead slip away. This time they built up a big enough lead to withstand a late charge, as the Berries got no closer than 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“Logansport is always a game we look forward to, and the kids just stepped up to the challenge tonight,” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “They felt like they had some unfinished business from in the tournament when we didn’t play very well to close out the game. We had a five-point lead with three minutes to go and made some mental mistakes, and these guys were determined that wasn’t going to happen again.
“This is a big game for us and it’s something that we can use as a springboard to finish the season strong. It was kind of a test for us because we really didn’t know how good we were, but we’re very confident now. Our press seems to still be effective. We’ve got nine guys that all contributed and I thought that was huge to get the bench play that we did.”
The senior guard duo of Blake Hadley and Austin Keisling led the way for the Kings, as they had 21 and 20 points, respectively. Ryan Bixler scored 13 and Victor DeJesus had 12. Owen Ohman and Evan Ohman added eight and six points, respectively.
Keisling and DeJesus led with seven rebounds each, as the Kings outrebounded Logan 40-22 for the game.
The Kings were more efficient offensively, scoring two more field goals (26) on 10 less attempts (53). They were 32 of 41 from the foul line, as Keisling and Hadley combined for 23 of 32 to help pull out the win late.
The Kings broke open a 39-34 game with an 11-0 run in the third quarter to take a 16-point lead. The Berries had four straight turnovers offensively including a pair of palming violations during the run.
The Kings later scored a four-point possession following a technical foul on the Logan bench to take a 56-37 lead late in the third quarter. They led 57-42 after three.
Evan Ohman hit a 3 to give the Kings a 67-50 lead with 5:00 remaining. The Berries made a late charge and were within 72-62 when Jalen Adaway came up with a steal but his shot was just off. Keisling rebounded and hit both free throws to give the Kings a 74-62 lead with 2:37 left and they were able to hold on from there.
“I could tell two or three minutes into the game it was going to be a long night for us,” Logan coach Pat Skaggs said. “I think they beat us in about every phase of the game. Rebounding is not about size and jumping ability, it’s about heart, effort and position. I thought they obviously just did a lot better job of getting after it than we did. We’re a team that obviously to a fault probably relies on our offense too much. Tonight we didn’t hit and they were the better team tonight.”
The Kings were often able to get point-blank looks at the basket.
“Obviously we’re not a good defensive team at this point in the season,” Skaggs said. “Again that showed tonight, whether that was on out-of-bounds plays or whether that was in the halfcourt set, whether we were man or whether we were zone. But you’ve got to give a lot of credit to the Hadley kid. He’s just such a solid player, he’s so strong, he’s such a good ball-handler, he does a great job with the ball. I thought Matt Jennings did some good things for us tonight, but Lewis Cass’ guards really played well. With them and their rebounding — I thought the DeJesus kid had an outstanding game — I thought they were the main factors.”
It was a physical game with a total of 59 fouls. Five players fouled out, four from Logansport, and four technical fouls were called, three on Logan. The Berries shot 16 of 28 from the line.
Matt Jennings led the Berries with 22 points including 17 in the first half when the Berries still trailed 35-30 at the break. Carter Skaggs had 18 points for the game and Adaway added 16. Alex Brink chipped in six and Andrew Wamsley had four points and a team-high six boards.
“Logansport’s a really good team and they’re long and they’re athletic. They can cover some ground,” Kitchel said. “With Adaway in the middle, he causes all kinds of problems in there. Matt Jennings just put a show on in the first half. We knew he was a good player, but my gosh we’re not going to look forward to playing him the next three years.
“We thought the key to the game was Victor DeJesus, because Wamsley really gave us problems the last game and he’s played really well. We thought that if we could slow him up some that we’d have a chance at this game and Victor just did a tremendous job on him. And then Owen Ohman on Carter. He did a great job of challenging his shot and pushing him out farther out the floor. It was a good team win.”
Cass takes a 1-1 Mid-Indiana Conference record into Friday’s game at Maconaquah. The Berries host South Bend Career Academy Friday.