FULTON — A fast start led to a big early season win for the Lewis Cass boys basketball team on Wednesday night.
The Kings defeated Caston 64-43 at the Logansport Savings Bank Cass County Tournament.
The Kings jumped out to a 17-5 lead after one quarter and led 37-21 at halftime. They led by double digits the entire second half.
It was a balanced effort for the Kings against a Comets team that returns a lot from last year’s back-to-back sectional championship team.
Tyson Good scored 16 points to lead the Kings (2-1). LJ Hillis had 14 points and six rebounds. Robert Fitch had 12 points, five assists, four steals and two blocks. Luke Chambers was the fourth King in double figures with 11 points. Tristin Miller added eight points and nine boards.
Cass coach Kyle Johnson was happy with how his team came out ready to play.
“I really like that the kids respected and didn’t underestimate Caston because I really like what they do. I like what coach Davis does,” Johnson said. “We just had a really solid effort defensively. We really dug in at every spot and we’re really trying to limit them to as few 3s as possible and that’s what we did tonight. You don’t want to give them open looks. It was tough matching their strength inside too. I think we have a little bit of strength inside. So it was a grind it out battle and I’m glad to come away with the W and have a chance to play for the championship.”
The Kings shot just 1 of 7 from 3-point range but held the Comets to 3 of 10 shooting from distance. The Kings won the rebounding battle 27-13 and the turnover battle 19-15. The Kings allowed the Comets to put up just 29 shots for the game and got up 15 more shots themselves.
Good, Chambers and Miller continued to put up their good numbers and Hillis and Fitch stepped up with big games.
“I was pretty impressed. I thought LJ Hillis did a heck of a job tonight. Fitch is coming into his own a little bit,” Johnson said. “It’s a process for Robert Fitch. I think he can be really good point guard and he has big shoes to fill from last year, he knows that, but he does different things well from our former point guard. So I was really pleased with him offensively and defensively. He came away with some steals a couple times that were crucial. LJ, he’s able to bang inside with the big boys too. He’s probably one of our best 3-point shooters but it was pretty exciting to see him mix it up inside as well and get some easy buckets.”
Joey Spin and Grant Hickle had 12 points apiece to lead the Comets (0-2). Sam Smith had six points, Kade Zeider five and Bryce Rudicel four.
Caston coach Carl Davis said it took too long for his team to get going and they could never quite climb out of their early hole.
“I thought they were really aggressive coming out. They took it to us early and built a lead. I thought really for the last three quarters of the game that we competed a lot better. We were more aggressive. But right now it’s just little things, it’s little things that we’re talking about every day, that we work on every day that we’re not doing a good enough job of executing right now in a game. It’s part of the process, it’s part of learning and growing and obviously we’ve had a couple of those things exposed in the first couple games. We’ve had really good lessons in the first couple games and we have to learn from those.”
The Kings have been a bad matchup for the Comets with their size advantage in recent years but Davis said that’s no excuse. The teams will meet again in Walton on Feb. 15.
“We talked in the locker room after that there’s no question the ability in that locker room, there’s no question what they can achieve together,” Davis said. “But again, it’s about the habits we have. The habits we have right now are getting the results we’re getting. We have to improve our habits and those results will come as a product of that.”
The consolation and final will be held Friday at the Berry Bowl. Caston plays Logansport in the 6:30 p.m. third-place game, while Cass plays Pioneer at 8 o’clock for the championship.
Pioneer defeated Logansport for just the second time in program history on Tuesday night. The Kings were last county champions two years ago.
“I wouldn’t say surprise opponent, I would say like we talked about last week, any of these four teams, who’s playing the best ball right now,” Johnson said. “We’re playing OK but there’s a lot of things I’m going to lose sleep over tonight that I want to fix as a coach. But it’s going to be a fun battle. It’s kind of neat that we’re there with Pioneer, kind of a different flavor than it’s been for awhile. So I’m excited about it. Our guys have to continue to stay humble and understand how we got into the position that we’re into.”