OHIO – On a Homecoming night when Ohio High School welcomed back half a dozen basketball icons from its past – as well as several members of the Classes of 2004, 1994, 1984, 1974, and even one from 1944 – the LaMoille/Ohio Lions hung close for nearly three quarters, before falling to the AFC Raiders, 69-54.
Ashton-Franklin Center got a monster performance from guard Bret Gittleson, who poured in 41 points to lead the Raiders (7-12) to victory, including supplying a whopping 16-point third period effort.
LaMoille/Ohio led for most of the game’s first quarter, as six different Lions scored to give the hosts a 15-12 lead after eight minutes of play.
A Josh Gross basket with 5:51 left in the second quarter staked the Lions to their largest lead of the night, seven points, 21-14.
However, from there, the Raiders closed out the first half on a 17-4 run to go up by six, 31-25, at the break.
L/O rallied in the game’s third period, even taking a brief 42-40 lead on one of Jeffry DeLong’s trio of three-pointers on the night.
The Raiders responded by scoring 13 of the quarter’s final 15 points – 11 of them courtesy of Gittleson’s hot hand – to enter the fourth frame with a 53-44 edge.
“We hung with them for (two)-and-a-half quarters,” said L/O coach Brent Kalsto. “(AFC) made every shot in the book (in the third quarter), even when we were defending them. They just weren’t (all) wide open shots. There were a couple where we let them go and lost track of them, but they just didn’t miss.
“Give the kids credit. We played hard. I love the kids that I have. We’re going to play hard until the end. If we lose, we lose, and if we win, we win. So, we’ll have fun together and play hard.”
Gittleson, who finished the third period with 37 points, got his final four tallies during AFC’s 12-1 run to open the fourth frame. Suddenly, the visitors led by 20 points, 65-45, and the Raiders coasted to a 15-point non-conference win.
DeLong finished with 13 points, while Jacob Tudor paced L/O (4-16) with 15 points on 7-9 shooting from the field.
Besides Gittleson’s 41, AFC got 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds from Troy Mairs.
These two teams previously met in AFC’s own Thanksgiving tournament at the start of the season, with the Raiders edging the Lions, 73-68, the first time around.
• Notes: The six Ohio High School basketball greats having their retired jerseys rededicated Wednesday night were Steve Etheridge, Brad Bickett, Lance Harris, Ike Beers, Todd Etheridge, and Brian Piper. Lloyd Johnson, former coach of the Ohio Bulldogs from 1984 to 1991, joined in on the celebration. ... LaMoille/Ohio’s freshmen-sophomore squad earned a 59-52 victory over AFC’s junior varsity in the preliminary game. L/O boasted four players scoring in double figures. Derek Debruhl sank 6-11 shots from the floor en route to 18 points, followed by Brody Debruhl (12), Alan Stamberger (11) and Clay Stuepfert (10). L/O trailed by four, 45-41, with seven minutes to play, and the younger Lions responded with an 18-7 fourth quarter advantage to secure a seven-point victory