OHIO – The LaMoille-Ohio Lions roared back in the fourth quarter to overtake the DePue Little Giants, 49-48 Tuesday night in nonconference boys varsity basketball action.
After scoring only 23 points total in the first three quarters, the Lions sank 26 in the final period to earn the win.
“That was a great fourth quarter by my boys,” L-O coach Kenny Shrimplin said. “We went down at halftime, and (I told the kids) I knew that we could do better than we were doing. Second half, we came out (and our players) dug deep. They never give up.
“That’s what I like about this group. I say it after every game. They don’t give up. They keep trying. They give 120 percent. They leave everything on the floor. It was just a good team effort by everyone tonight. It was a great win, and I’m very happy.”
Once trailing by as many as 14 points, 32-18, on a 3-point play by DePue senior Marcus Winfert, the Lions got within 11 tallies with eight minutes to go.
From there, L-O made good on 10-15 shots from the field, including a pair of treys, and 4-6 free throws in the last period.
A 3-point basket by Luke Lovgren put the Lions suddenly in front, 47-45, with 1:11 to play.
Winfert sank 3-4 free throws in two trips to the foul line, sandwiching a Lions turnover, to give the Little Giants back a 48-47 lead with 21.7 ticks left.
L-O took its final lead on a nifty pass from Marcus Winn to Casen Cherry for an open layup with 10.5 seconds remaining.
“We executed at the end there,” Shrimplin said. “We drew the last play up, and they ran it to perfection. Casen did what he was supposed to do and put it in.”
DePue took a timeout with :08.2 showing on the clock. One shot failed, then a second shot off an offensive rebound barely missed as well, and the Lions escaped with the win.
“We had a shot at the end. You miss a layup, and you’ve got it right there, that’s a chance to win a game,” DePue coach Charlie Klinefelter said. “You have to make those shots. You have to have faith in yourself that you’re going to make that shot.”
The Lions led by as many as five points three times in the first half, but fell behind, 22-18, in favor of DePue, at halftime.
DePue built its 14-point lead by scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter, turning that halftime score of 22-14 into 32-14 in about four and a half minutes.
All told, the Lions scored 10 points over the course of the game’s second and third quarters, while committing 16 of their 26 turnovers, going 3-17 from the floor, before their fourth-quarter surge.
The Little Giants made good on only 8-15 free throws over the final eight minutes, and only 3-11 shots from the field, allowing the Lions to claw their way back in front late.
“We have to have guys, when they get the shots, they make the shots, especially free throws. Free throws killed us,” Klinefelter said. “That has been the thorn in our side the whole season. We’re only hitting about 49 percent of our free throws. You do that, you don’t have an opportunity to win a game. And that happened tonight.
“Down the stretch, they just had too many horses for us. Still, we had opportunities to win, but you’ve got to make free throws. It all comes down to free throws. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot all year long.”
Winfert poured in a game-high 29 points for the Little Giants (6-12), but the visitors could have used a little more offense from his other teammates.
“He got tired, and he’s been carrying us,” Klinefelter said of Winfert. “He’s averaging about 17 points a game, but he can’t keep carrying us like that. The rest of guys have got to step up, too.”
Marcus Winn (14), Luke Lovgren (14), and Brady Becker (13) led LaMoille/Ohio (6-8) in scoring, while Becker also supplied a game-high eight rebounds for the winners.
“It was a good game. I’m happy with the kids’ effort. It was a great night,” Shrimplin said. “We’ve just got to keep going forward. I told the kids, ‘New year, new jerseys, new us. Let’s go and turn it around in the second half of the season and get some W’s.’ And starting tonight, it was nice.”
• Notes: It was a doubly special night at Ohio High School, as the students and alumni celebrated Homecoming 2019, and the school held a ceremony to retire Lexi Loftus’ uniform No. 20. The 2018 BCR Player of the Year scored more than 2,000 points. ... DePue won the prelim game 42-30. Tony Lopez (11), Koby Hayes (10), and Jorge Escobar (9) paced the Little Giants, while Sean Fitzpatrick led L-O with 10 points and Brock Loftus added eight points.