ADA, OHIO – It was billed all season long as potentially one of the best matchups in the state as St. Henry took the court against the defending D3 Champions in LCC. For the first half of basketball it was more like a rout as the T-Birds jumped on the Redskins early and often before surviving a big run in the 3rd quarter and earning their 45-44 win Saturday night at ONU.
Led early by Dantez Walton who scored 5 of his team high 16 points in the first stanza, the T-Birds flexed their offensive muscle and led 11-7 after the first quarter and 30-15 at the half before the Redskins came out guns blazing after the break.
St. Henry shot 6/21 in the first half and 0-5 from 3 but shot 10/15 from the field and hit 5/8 triples in the 3rd quarter as they accounted for 20 period points and were found themselves down just four at 39-35 heading to the fourth quarter.
Caleb Bender got things going coming out of the halftime break for the Redskins as he tossed in a three pointer :12 into the third stanza that helped key a 17-9 run aided by triples by Bender, Ryan Mikesell, Mitch Stammen, and one by Evan Prenger that pulled the MAC Champions to 32-26 midway through the quarter just seconds before a Stammen steal and layup that forced LCC to take a timeout up 32-38 with 4:29 left in the 3rd.
Following the timeout and a missed LCC layup by Josh Dixon, the Redskins cut the lead to just a pair as Prenger scored on a layup assisted by Caleb Bender. On the ensuing possession for the T-Birds Aidan O’Connor’s turnover set up a three point play by Mitch Stammen who added a free throw to give his team a 32-31 lead when Josh Dixon picked up his 3rd foul of the game.
Despite being in foul trouble in the second half, Dixon was effective on the offensive end as he stuck back an O’Connor miss off the glass to put LCC back in the lead at 34-33 with 1:07 to go in the games second to last quarter. Cam White, a 6’2 Senior for the Birds connected on a jumper to push the lead to three but Mikesell’s layup just seconds later made it 36-35 LCC. With a trio of fouls on his own late in the third quarter Walton was subbed in defense for offense in the second half but loomed large with the basketball as he drained a fall away three pointer from the right wing at the buzzer to put his squad in front 39-35.
Lima Central Catholic utilized the clock very effectively in the final quarter as Junior Tre Cobbs, who did not get the start due to a shoulder injury showcased his superior ballhandling and dribbling abilities by running almost 3:00 off of the clock near the half court line. There was just 2:43 left in the fourth when Mikesell who was held to just 12 points in the game on 5/14 shooting connected on 1/2 free throws to cut the lead to 39-36.
Dantez Walton grabbed an offensive rebound off of an Aidan O’Connor miss and sent it back outside to Josh Dixon who connected on a three pointer that put LCC up 6 with 1:46 left. Not to be outdone however the Redskins cut the lead to three again on their next possession as Mitch Stammen connected on a triple that was immediately followed by a timeout for MAC Coach of the Year Eric Rosenbeck.
Almost a minute came off of the clock for the T-Birds before a free throw by Cobbs gave LCC a four point advatage at 43-39 with :46 left in the game. St. Henry got the ball next on a rebound by Jesse Niekamp and scored on a Mikesell layup with :16 left to make it 43-41 by Cobbs blazed a trail down the court and got a pair of points on a layup with high right hand that provided the final LCC points. Evan Prenger hit a three pointer with :04 seconds left to provide the final points in the 46-45 loss for the Redskins.
LCC (23-2) who shot a perfect 6/6 from 3 will travel to Bowling Green’s Stroh Center on Wednesday night at for the 6th straight season they will meet the OG Titans, and the 4th straight time in the Regional round as the two will tip off at 8pm in a game that will be broadcast live on www.zsportslive.com
St. Henry ends their season at 22-3 in the last contest for a highly decorated Senior class consisting of Caleb Bender (2nd team MAC), Scott Knapke, Blake Hoying, Evan Prenger, Justin Ahlers, and the 2015 Midwest Athletic Conference and Northwest District Player of the Year and future Dayton Flyer Ryan Mikesell who finishes his prep career with 1540 points.
Dantez Walton 16
Jake Williams 6
Josh Dixon 11
Tre Cobbs 8
Cam White 4
FG: 18/30 (60%)
3: 6/6 (100% – Walton 4, Dixon, Cobbs)
FT: 3/8 (37.5%)
Reb: 22 (7 offensive – Walton 6)
Ast: 10 (Cobbs 6)
Blk: 2 (Walton 2)
Stl: 9 (Walton 2, Dixon 2, Cobbs 2)
St. Henry (44):
Caleb Bender 5
Mitch Stammen 17
Evan Prenger 10
Ryan Mikesell 12
FG: 16/36 (44.4%)
3: 5/13 (38.5%)
FT: 7/10 (70.0%)
Reb: 17 (6 offensive – J. Niekamp 5)
Ast: 7 (Bender 2, Stammen 2, Prenger 2)
Blk: 2 (Stammen, Prenger)
Stl: 9 (Mikesell 4)