BY BRIAN BASSETT
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
VAN WERT - Earlier this season, Lima Temple Christian defeated Lincolnview in double-overtime. It only took four quarters, however, for the Lancers to repay the favor in the Division IV sectional opener at Van Wert High School Wednesday.
Lincolnview (10-13) won the contest 50-43 to advance to Friday's sectional final against Delphos St. John's, who easily beat Fort Jennings in Wednesday's opener.
The Lancer sectional win over Temple Christian (16-7) was the second in as many years for Lincolnview.
"I'm extremely pleased with our effort. Like I told the kids, we've got to win the 50/50 game, and I thought we did that. (Temple Christian) is a good team. They were 16-6 coming in, we lost to them in double-overtime (earlier this season). It's good to get a win, I think it's going to give our kids some confidence," said Lancer coach Brett Hammons.
Temple got four points from senior guard Evan Sutton, three from senior guard Justin Kroehler and four from senior center Andrew Rhoad in the opening frame to take an 11-7 lead after a quarter.
The quarter was a sign of things to come for the Pioneers, as the trio were the only three players to score for Temple Christian.
Lincolnview turned the four-point deficit into a 26-17 lead by halftime, thanks in large part to seven points from junior forward Conner McCleery and eight from junior guard Kyle Williams.
"I thought we played pretty even in the first quarter. I thought during the second quarter we took advantage of some things - we got after it," explained Hammons.
The teams traded threes to open the third quarter, and after a layup from senior guard Kade Carey, it looked like the Lancers were about to blow the game wide open.
Lincolnview led by as many as 12 halfway through the third, but Kroehler then went to work. Kroehler went 5-of-5 from the field in the quarter for 12 points, outscoring the entire Lancer squad by two in the frame.
Kroehler's efforts, part of a game-high 21 points for the senior, helped bring the Pioneers within one, 36-35, at the end of three.
"The Kroehler kid is a really good player," commented Hammons. "He ended up with 21 points. I thought our kids started to force some things (in the third quarter). (Kroehler) would make a basket and we would try to get right back at it instead of slowing down and trying to execute our offense."
The fourth quarter was a different story for the Lancers - and Kroehler. McCleery got four quick points, and the Lacners got a layup from senior guard Nick Leeth to stretch their lead back to 44-37.
Meanwhile, after hitting his first shot of the quarter, Kroehler went 0-of-5 the rest of the game - all from long-range.
The Pioneers, trailing 46-41, were forced to foul late. The Lancers closed the game by going 5-of-9 from the foul line to hold on for the win.
"We ended up making some plays. We got some stops defensively, made some shots on offense and knocked down some free throws," Hammons said.
The shooting was relatively even. Lincolnview hit 18-of-43 for 42 percent, and Temple Christian managed 17-of-38 for 45 percent, despite only connecting on 3-of-18 from three-point range.
Williams and McCleery led the charge for the Lancers, with 17 and 15 points respectively. The Lancer coach pointed to McCleery's play as a major factor in the win. McCleery added seven rebounds, while going 5-of-7 from the free-throw line.
"He opens things up for outrguards," explained Hammons. "And when makes moves (in the post) like that, with the way he rebounds and the way he scores - he knocked down some rebounds, that's huge for our team. (He) give us an inside presence that we need."
Sutton added 14 points to Kroehler's 21, and Rhoad added eight to round out the Pioneer scoring. Kroehler grabbed eight boards, as did Rhoad.
The Lancer defense forced 16 Temple Christian turnovers, while committing only eight, but the Pioneers held an advantage on the glass, outrebounding the Lancers 22-19.
With the win, Lincolnview advances to Friday's sectional final against the Blue Jays. The teams will play the 8 p.m. game at Van Wert, directly after the Crestview/Ottoville game.
The Lancers will have another chance to avenge a defeat from the regular season, as Lincolnview fell 70-45 to St. John's (16-5) earlier this season.
"We know what they do. We've seen them, we've played against them. They have Curtis Geise, who is probably one of the best players in our area. They're physical, their guards can shoot and they pressure you on defense. We've got to be ready for them. We've got to come ready to play and execute our game plan," added Hammons.
LINCOLNVIEW (2pt. 3pt. FT Pts.)
Leeth 3-5 0-0 0-1 6, Carey 2-9 0-1 0-0 4, Williams 2-4 3-9 4-7 17, Evans 0-1 0-1 0-0 0, Dowdy 2-3 1-3 1-2 8, McCleery 5-6 0-0 5-7 15, Ludwig 0-1 0-0 0-0 0.
LIMA TEMPLE CHRISTIAN
Sutton 5-6 0-2 4-4 14, Zwiebel 0-2 0-2 0-0 0, Bolon 0-1 0-0 0-2 0, Kroehler 6-6 3-10 0-0 21, Rhoad 3-5 0-0 2-2 8, Bowman 0-0 0-2 0-0 0, Long 0-0 0-1 0-0 0.
Lincolnview 7 19 10 14 - 50
Temple Christian 11 6 18 8 - 43