FULTON — From the outside looking in, Saturday night’s annual matchup between Caston and Lewis Cass draws many similarities. Each squad has stumbled of late, and it couldn’t happen at a worse time with sectional time around the corner. The silver lining to that thought would be, at least it appears there will be a sectional this season. Caston entered its final home contest riding a five-game losing streak, after dropping a hard-fought battle against LaVille Friday. Kyle Johnson’s Kings had lost seven of their last 11, albeit to an ambitious schedule that includes Kokomo, Marion, Western and Lafayette Central Catholic.
Historically, Caston has had a rough road to travel with Cass, losing seven out of their last eight in the series. Their last win came back on Dec. 21, 2018 in the Cass County Tournament, which was among just three wins in Carl Davis’s first season as the Comet head coach.
But those brief comparisons were nowhere to be found in Fulton Saturday night, as Lewis Cass dominated Caston for 32 minutes. The Kings used their superior length, size and strength to attack Caston on both ends, resulting in a sound 50-30 victory.
Not only were points hard to come by for Caston, but so were open shots in general. Cass extended the Comets perimeter ball rotation with hounding defense, and used a balanced inside strategy to extend an early lead. After seeing a 6-2 deficit after one period, Cass took advantage of Caston turnovers with easy transition baskets from Nolan Young, Tyson Johnson and Carson Vest to start the second. Comet junior Sam Smith scored seven in the quarter, with most of the attention paid to Caston’s perimeter shooters. A layup from senior Blaine Rudd gave the Kings a 21-9 at the half.
“I was really pleased with our overall team defensive effort," said Johnson. "We really tried to challenge their 3-point shooting aggressively as we knew that was a strength of theirs. We tried to pick and choose times to use pressure to keep them off base and out of rhythm."
Young opened the third quarter with a 3 from the corner, followed by hoops from Tristin Miller and Tyson Good as the Cass lead swelled to 17 at the 5:49 mark. With no success from the perimeter, Caston began attacking the paint with some effectiveness. Rudicel found Smith for a post feed bucket at the 3:30 mark, only to be erased by consecutive driving hoops from Johnson off Caston turnovers. Miller nailed another lane jumper to extend the lead to 34-20 entering the final quarter.
“Cass did a really good job of protecting the paint and closing driving lanes. Offensively we got some great looks from the perimeter and shots didn’t fall,” added Davis. “They did a great job of cutting hard and finishing around the rim. We have to do a better job of disrupting cuts and getting deflections.”
Junior Kade Zeider finally hit Caston’s first 3 of the night, in a transition pullup with 4:37 left. An ensuing 6-0 burst from Vest and Rudd kicked the lead to 21 at the 2:55 mark.
Smith had a game-high 14 for Caston. Miller and Vest led a balanced offensive night for Cass, with 10 each. Caston ended the night with 17 turnovers, compared to 11 for Cass.
Caston (6-15) travels to North Miami Thursday, while Lewis Cass travels to Twin Lakes Tuesday.