DeGRAFF — It didn’t come easy and there was a little breath holding at the end, but the Lehman Catholic boys basketball team is off to a 2-0 start in Northwest Central Conference play and 2-1 overall after 46-44 victory over Riverside Friday night.
The Cavaliers led most of the game and still held a 46-42 lead with 34.5 seconds to go.
But Riverside’s Lane Willoby scored to cut the lead to 46-44.
Lehman missed two free throws with 16 seconds to go to give Riverside one last chance.
The Cavalier defense didn’t make it easy and Riverside’s off-balance 3-pointer for the win bounced off the rim to give Lehman the road victory.
The game had been evenly played in the early going and Bryce Kennedy’s three put the game in an 8-8 tie at the end of the opening quarter.
Riverside gained the momentum early in the second quarter.
Two baskets by Willoby and a jumper by Wyatt Auflick gave the Pirates (2-4, 1-2) a 14-10 lead with 2:50 remaining in the half.
Lehman went on a 10-0 run to take a 20-14 lead early in the second half.
“When you play in a close game, every possession matters. Unfortunately, we made a few poor decisions in the second quarter tonight that took us from a four-point lead to a four-point deficit, and Lehman was able to hold onto that lead for the rest of the game,” Riverside coach Seth Bodenmiller said.
Lehman’s run started with 3s by Kennedy and Brendan O’Leary and Luke Frantz made a great save on an offensive rebound and dished it to Michael Denning before falling out of bounds and Denning converted to make it 18-14 at the half.
Elliott Gilardi scored on the first possession of the second half to make it 20-14.
And while Riverside closed within a point or two on a number of occasions, Lehman never lost the lead.
Willloby had 16 points in the second half and John Zumberger hit two threes in the fourth quarter and Kameron Schlumbohm added one to keep the Pirates close.
After Riverside closed within 34-32 with 4:08 remaining. Gilardi hit 1-of-2 free throws, O’Leary drilled a jumper and Denning sank two free throws to make it 39-34.
Frantz hit two free throws with 1:25 to go to make it 43-37, but Kyle Knight had a putback for Riverside.
Gilardi hit one of two free throws with 58.4 seconds left to make it 44-39, but Zumberger drilled a 3 at the other end to make it 44-42.
Gilardi hit two free throws with 34.2 seconds left to make it 46-42 and Lehman was able to hold on for the win.
“We made some big shots down the stretch and they missed a couple of free throws that gave us a chance on the final possession,” Bodenmiller said. “We weren’t really able get a great look, but that’s a credit to Lehman’s defense.”
O’Leary led the Cavaliers with 13 points, while Gilardi scored 10 points and Kennedy had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Frantz added eight points and six rebounds. Willoby had 20 points and five rebounds for Riverside, while Knight added seven points and five rebounds.
Lehman was 15-of-37 from the floor for 41 percent and 11-of-19 from the line for 58 percent. Riverside was 16-of-41 from the floor for 39 percent and 9-of-12 from the line for 75 percent.
Lehman will be back in action on Saturday at home against Houston. Riverside hosts Botkins on Saturday.
“Even though the outcome wasn’t in our favor, I still think that we were able to take a small step forward tonight and hopefully we can use that tomorrow with Botkins,” Bodenmiller said.