ADA - Jared Wentling said he and his teammates wanted to make a statement against Lima Central Catholic.
The Carey junior and the rest of the Blue Devils were tasked with trying to knock out LCC for the second-consecutive year in the district semis. Last year, when the teams met in Lima, the game was never close, and the Thunderbirds advanced, 66-33.
The memory remained vivid for Wentling.
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Carey's Jared Wentling shoots over Lima Central Catholic’s Ethan O'Connor during Thursday’s district semifinal in Ada.
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Carey's Laine Wentling grabs a rebound from Lima CC's Jake Williams
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Carey's Laine Wentling grabs a rebound from Lima Central Catholic's Jake Williams during Thursday’s district semifinal in Ada.
"Last year we got stomped pretty bad," he said, adding the team wanted to make a better representation of itself this time around.
Carey did, even if the final result was the same.
Wentling did everything he possibly could, and Carey stayed close to Lima Central Catholic for two and a half quarters. But the Thunderbirds dominated the end of the third, and pulled away, advancing with an 84-61 win.
"Through two quarters and a half, I thought we played them pretty well," Carey coach C.J. Kin said.
Carey got off to a good start, taking an early 6-3 lead after a Matthew Holsinger layup. The first quarter went back and forth, with the Thunderbirds taking a 17-15 lead when Martyce Kimbrough drained a 3 with 25 seconds left, a lead they took into the second.
The Thunderbirds used an 8-0 run to take a 25-17 edge, and led 31-24 after a Simpson layup with 2:02 remaining in the half. The T-Birds led 35-28 at the break.
"I thought Carey did a great job in those first 16 minutes, and really, I thought they out-hustled us," Lima Central Catholic coach Frank Kill said.
The third quarter was pivotal.
Carey got a left-corner 3 from Laine Wentling on the first possession, and for a while the Thunderbirds and Blue Devils traded baskets, with Carey down just 43-39 after a Zach Boes bucket with 4:52 let in the quarter.
And then Lima Central Catholic took over. To LCC's Kimbrough, a University of Indianapolis recruit who finished with 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds, it all came down to defense.
"That's something we pride ourselves on, our defense leads to our offense," Kimbrough said. "We knew defense was going to win us this game."
Kimbrough answered Boes' bucket with one of his four 3s of the game. Carey turned the ball over on the next possession. After a free throw from Xavier Simpson and a basket by Jared Wentling, Carey still trailed only 47-41.
But Kimbrough hit another 3, then Simpson stole the ball from Boes. Simpson was fouled going to the hoop, and split the pair at the line. But LCC's Trey Cobbs made another steal, which led to a three-point play.
Suddenly, the Thunderbirds were up 13. And the lead kept growing. The Thunderbirds closed the period on a 23-4 run and went to the fourth up 66-43.
Kin said the turnovers were critical. His team finished with 17, but had six in the third.
"By the time we righted the ship, the (deficit) was already 20," he said. "We got out of what we wanted to do, and we couldn't do that against a good team like LCC."
The Thunderbirds finished the game with five players scoring in double figures. Aside from Kimbrough, Cobbs had 16 points, while Simpson led his team with 21.
Simpson also had seven assists and seven steals. Thunderbird Dantez Walton had 14 points on 6 of 6 shooting from the floor, while Cory Stewart came off the bench with 11 points.
Jared Wentling (who Kill said LCC "didn't have an answer for") put up 25 points and 10 rebounds, both team-highs.
Bryan Powers finished with 15 points for the Blue Devils, with Boes contributing 12.
LCC advances to play Liberty-Benton here Saturday. The Eagles knocked off St. Henry in the first game Thursday, 57-34.
As for Carey, Jared Wentling will be back, along with most of this year's junior-heavy squad.
"We've been playing with each other for a while, so we have a lot of chemistry coming back next year," he said.