HUNTINGTON — The Lewis Cass boys basketball squad possessed this season an unparalleled ability to turn what should have been areas of deficiency into its biggest strengths.
Despite a starting five which featured no one taller than 6-foot-1, the Kings rode a 20-game win streak into Saturday’s Class 2A northern semistate against Westview, beating teams by forcing their way into the paint with penetration, getting to the basket and making them pay at the free throw line.
Westview did what the previous 20 attempted unsuccessfully, taking those strengths away for key stretches in a 65-58 victory over the No. 7-ranked Kings in front of a packed crowd at Huntington’s North Arena.
“We’re little bitty guys who just battle and fight. We’ve done that all year,” Cass coach Jon Kicthel said. “That’s who we are. That’s why we’re 22-3. We just fight until the very end. Our kids are scrappers. If you look at us warming up, we’re pretty unassuming. Other teams look at us and think this is going to be a walk in the park, but our guys just battle.
“Unfortunately, there’s only going to be four teams who’re going to be happy at the end of the season. Our guys are devastated right now.”
The Warriors deployed a flat, sagging defense in an attempt to thwart Cass’ driving ability, and it left the Kings frustrated offensively in the first half, especially in the second quarter. After clawing back from down nine early to take a 14-13 lead at the first stop, the Kings went cold from the field, connecting on just 2 of 13 shots as Westview built a 29-19 lead by the half. Cass climbed back to within three on a pair of occasions, but were unable to fully get over the hump in the end.