Dec. 5—LIMA — Lima Central Catholic's Evan Unruh made the most of his second chance.
Unruh missed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left which would have given the T-Birds the lead.
But Unruh came back and hit two foul shots with five seconds left to give LCC a 37-36 boys basketball victory against Van Wert on Saturday afternoon at Msgr. Herr Gymnasium.
"It felt great," Unruh said. "We shot 100 free throws on Monday and I felt confident going to the line."
After Unruh hit his foul shots, Van Wert's Aidan Pratt dribbled to halfcourt and called timeout.
After the timeout, Van Wert missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer and LCC had the victory.
"This was the good, the bad and the ugly," LCC coach Frank Kill said. "The reality is we played good enough to get this game."
LCC is 2-1. Van Wert is 1-1.
"I'm proud of our guys," Van Wert coach Ben Laudick said. "We got down 11 in the third quarter and we had a chance as a team to fold the tent up and we found a way to battle back in.
"We both had good moments and we both had moments where we can watch the film and go back and correct things. I think both teams are still trying to get their basketball legs underneath them. Over time, we'll get a step closer to where we want to be."
Unruh had 14 points and six rebounds for LCC.
"We came together as a team (down the stretch)," Unruh said. "We had a few bad turnovers and talked those over and we knew rebounds would be key. They have some big boys and we boxed out well in the fourth quarter."
LCC's Carson Parker had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Billy Bourk added four points and 11 rebounds for LCC. Bourk also guarded Van Wert's Pratt and held him to five points in the second half.
Garett Gunter led Van Wert with 16 points.
Pratt had 11 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
The game had runs where both teams played well.
It also had sloppy times when it showed both teams had players who weren't far removed from playing in the football regional championship game.
LCC had 14 turnovers, while Van Wert had six.
LCC won the boards, 38-23.
The fourth quarter was tight for the final four minutes.
Van Wert's Gunter hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Cougars a 36-35 lead with 52 seconds left.
LCC ran the clock down and Unruh missed a 3-pointer with eight seconds to go.
Pratt rebounded and was fouled.
Pratt missed both foul shots off the double bonus and Unruh grabbed the second miss. Before Unruh could get out of traffic, he was fouled.
Unruh made both foul shots off the double bonus with five seconds left and LCC had a 37-36 lead.
"That's what you need out of Evan, who has been around here for the last two and a half years," Kill said.
"And I'm grateful for a guy like Carson Parker, who is coming out of football and not 100 percent (after an ankle injury in the regional finals)."
Van Wert led 13-5 after the first quarter, but LCC pulled ahead at the half, 18-17.
Van Wert ran out to an 11-0 lead with 2:46 left in the first quarter.
The T-Birds looked sluggish out of the gate, as they started the game 0 for 6 from the field with six turnovers at the 2:46 mark of the first.
Parker broke the ice for LCC with a 3-pointer and LCC got within 13-5 after the first quarter.
LCC started the second quarter on a 9-2 run led by Unruh, who hit a 15-footer and a 3-pointer during the run.
That got LCC within 15-14.
"It was defense (that got us back in it)," Kill said. "We're not always going to make shots and make the best plays, but if your defense can keep you in it. We did enough to win tonight."
LCC led by as many as 11, 29-18 with 3:25 left in the third quarter.
But Gunter scored on a three-point play and then later dropped two foul shots to cap a 5-0 Cougars' run.
That brought Van Wert within 29-23 after three, which set up the final quarter.
Unruh played well in the Elida Tip-Off Classic last weekend after missing the football playoffs with a broken collarbone he suffered in Week 7.
"I'm doing well and guys are picking me up," Unruh said. "I'm having a good time out there. I'm glad to be back."
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.