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February 8, 2014

Kings topple Peru for 8th straight win

WALTON — Lewis Cass’ boys basketball team gave up size at almost every position, and a lot of it, when the Kings lined up against Peru on Friday night. Where the Kings had an advantage was at floor level, with speed to burn.

Cass’ press harassed Peru into 23 turnovers and the Kings took advantage over and over, scoring 21 points off Peru miscues and pulling away for a 55-34 Mid-Indiana Conference victory.

“What we do best is our pressure defense, our fullcourt pressure defense,” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “If this would have been a halfcourt game, Peru would have beat us. If we would have come down [on defense], waited for them, they would have just kept sticking the ball inside and it would have been a different outcome, but we’ve got guys who are quick and aggressive and smart and so we have to continue to put pressure on them.”

The Kings improved to 10-2 overall and 3-1 in the MIC following their eighth straight win.

Peru (5-9, 2-3 MIC) is mired in a four-game losing skid. The Bengals shook up their lineup, starting JV regulars Kordell Prescott and Jonah Lester.

The result was an effort the Bengals were happy with, but not the outcome desired.

Peru got 13 points and 15 rebounds out of 6-foot-11 center Seth Adelsperger, who was the focus of Cass’ defense. Cass countered with 6-1 senior Victor DeJesus, and a lot of active help defense.

That helped lead to dozens of deflections and a slew of steals that Cass was able to take the other way. Cass guard Austin Keisling scored a game-high 14 points, 5-10 forward Owen Ohman added 11, and guards Ryan Bixler and Blake Hadley scored eight each.

Cass led 17-10 at the end of the first quarter and 33-22 at halftime. By the break, Cass had 14 points off a dozen Peru turnovers. After Keisling hit a free throw to start the scoring in the second half, Cass’ lead was never less than a dozen points. And the Kings controlled the clock in the fourth quarter, giving up just one 3-point basket by Eddie Childers for Peru’s only scoring in the final frame.

“It always helps when you’ve got guys like Hadley and Keisling, who are very comfortable with the ball in their hands and take good care of it,” Peru coach Jim Metcalfe said. “I think they had four or five turnovers at halftime. When you don’t turn it over and give yourself a chance every possession to get a good shot, that’s really hard to guard.

“Defensively they play really hard. Their press disrupts anything you’re trying to do offensively.”

Cass’ strengths offset a poor night shooting. The Kings were just 15 of 53 from the field but got to the line a lot, hitting 20 of 25 shots. On the other end, they managed to play to the limit physically while rarely crossing over. Cass was whistled for just nine fouls and Peru hit just 3 of 5 free throws.

Dealing with Adelsperger was a major concern. The junior center has developed into a skilled pivot who can hit shots in the post. Keeping him from getting in good position was DeJesus’ responsibility. He tried to keep the Bengal center at bay by getting a hand on entry passes or muscling him out of the lane.

“Vic, we told him that he was going to be the key to the game,” Kitchel said. “If Adelsperger was able to dominate the glass and back him down and score on top of him, we were going to have problems. In the first half, we did have problems with him. Vic did a great job the second half, kept him off the block and getting deep in the block, and we were able to send some guys in there to dig [at the ball]. When he turned, we had somebody right there on him.”

Cass travels to Winamac tonight.

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