Calvert defense clamps down on Lakota

Raiders’ offense goes cold in final minutes as Senecas snap losing streak

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Lakota's Brenden Schaser (left) and Calvert's Peyton Deats dive for the ball during the game in Tiffin Tuesday. Calvert's Alex Keller and Lakota's Tyler Gable provide backup.

If it seemed like a while, it’s because it had been.

When Calvert coach Ted Willman remarked that it seemed like a long time since the Senecas had won a game, his players had an answer.

“I told them, it seemed like a month ago since we won a game,” Willman said.  “And they go, ‘Well, coach, it was a year ago. It was last year.'”

It wasn’t really a year ago. But the Senecas’ last win was in 2016, a 46-45 win Dec. 20 at Gibsonburg. Four losses followed.

And while Tuesday’s game against Lakota wasn’t a masterpiece, it was what Calvert needed. Alex Keller had 17 points and eight rebounds, Connor Meyer had 14 points, and the Senecas fought off the Raiders for a 52-45 win in Tiffin.The game was tight until the final minutes — a four-minute scoreless stretch by Lakota late in the fourth quarter was crucial — as Calvert avenged a loss to the Raiders earlier this season. It improved to 4-6, 2-4 in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division.

“We play in spurts,” Willman said. “We’ve yet to string, like, two good quarters together.”

But the defense down the stretch was strong. The Raiders turned the ball over seven times in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 22 miscues.

Still, Lakota had chances. Despite trailing 15-8 after one quarter, the Raiders recovered to get within 25-23 at the half and 38-36 after three quarters.

It was Josh Kagy who gave the Raiders their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. He hit a 3 from the left wing — the only trey for either team in the game — and Lakota led 41-39 with 4:57 left in regulation.Keller countered with a jumper to tie it, then a layup from Andy Kagy gave the Raiders a 43-41 lead with 4:22 left.

Josh Kagy finished with a team-leading 16 points to go with four rebounds. Tyler Wehrle added 10 points and nine rebounds.

But then the Lakota offense went cold. And Calvert took advantage.Keller split a pair of free throws, then gave the Senecas a 44-43 lead with a layup at the 2:18 mark. Meyer’s floater with 1:52 remaining extended the Calvert lead to 46-43.

The Raiders nearly tied it when Josh Kagy had an open look at a 3 with 1:05 left. The ball appeared halfway in the cylinder, but spun out.

“His 3-ball has been there most of the year, and it wasn’t falling tonight,” Ray said. “He was so close — a couple of them were two-thirds down and then pop out, including one down the stretch there.”

Lakota finished 1 for 12 from 3-point range.From there, Calvert closed the game at the foul line, making 5 of 7 free throws in the final minute.

“They did what teams need to do down the stretch, and that’s sink free throws to seal the win,” Ray said. “It was a very physical game, which we don’t usually play well in, so I was kind of proud that we were able to hang around and play with them.”

Lakota fell to 4-8, 3-4 in the league.Corbin Kantner added seven points for the Senecas, while Connor Kennedy had six.

Willman said the win was important for Calvert’s players.

“They feel good about it, they should feel good about it,” he said. “You play a game like this, and it’s up and down. You’ve got to battle, and you find a way to win at the end, it’s like, ‘OK, we got that monkey off out back, let’s go back to work.'”