BATH TOWNSHIP – Comeback of the year might not do it justice. It might take a little more than that.
After three quarters of Lima Central Catholic’s 52-50 boys basketball win over Bath on Saturday night, the Thunderbirds looked like they were toast. Charred, burnt toast.
But with a borderline amazing comeback, they stunned Bath, which held a 45-28 lead going into the fourth quarter.
LCC (11-1) outscored the Wildcats 24-5 in the final eight minutes and didn’t allow a field goal until the final two seconds of the quarter.
The uniforms were about the only similarity between LCC in the fourth quarter and LCC in the first three quarters.
“This is the biggest and best comeback of my high school career so far,” senior guard Martyce Kimbrough said.
It was defense and a pair of sophomores which led that comeback.
Sophomore guard Tre Cobbs had a team-high 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and sophomore post player Dantez Walton had 14 points and eight rebounds. Eight of his points came in the final eight minutes.
Taren Sullivan (24 points), Collin Gossard (10 points) and Andrew Renner (10 points) led Bath (9-3).
“You saw a team that was dead for three quarters and by the grace of God we woke up,” LCC coach Frank Kill said. “We were making other guys try to make plays and taking Bath out of their offense. I was going to make other guys instead of Sullivan and Gossard take shots.
“But most importantly, we had to make plays. For three quarters, we didn’t make plays. They outhustled us for three straight quarters. They got every offensive rebound, they got every loose ball. But the tide reversed,” he said.
Cobbs said Kill delivered a message between the third and fourth quarters that the game was still within reach.
“Coach just told me, ‘Don’t give up, don’t give up.’ I actually played kind of horrible the first three quarters. “He told us to focus up and do the right things and that’s what we did.”
Maybe the biggest on-court message came early in LCC’s fourth-quarter comeback when Walton slammed home a dunk to make it 45-32 after a Bath turnover.
“I think Walton’s dunk got us the tempo, it kind of gave us the momentum,” Cobbs said.
LCC forced seven Bath turnovers in the fourth quarter and the Wildcats got off only six shots in the quarter.
The Thunderbirds didn’t take the lead until only 39 seconds were left in the game on a breakaway by Kimbrough to make it 50-48. Cobbs followed with another hoop 13 seconds later for a 52-48 lead.
LCC played without point guard Xavier Simpson, who was out with a slight hamstring pull, and it showed early. It had 13 turnovers in the first half when Bath jumped out to a 28-17 lead.
“There was some adjusting we had to do. We just had to settle down and once we got settled down we played a lot better,” Kimbrough said.