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The Suburbanite
  • Turnovers, missed free throws sabotage Tigers

  • On a night when the temperature outside registered in the single digits, an ice-cold second half doomed the Lake Center Christian Tigers to defeat in a 51-40 loss to visiting Chippewa.

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  • On a night when the temperature outside registered in the single digits, an ice-cold second half doomed the Lake Center Christian Tigers to defeat in a 51-40 loss to visiting Chippewa.
    Leading 22-21 at the half in their third game in five days, the Tigers ran out of fuel in the second half as the Chipps (9-5) poured on the pressure with both full- and half-court presses that forced 21 turnovers, including 10 in the second half as the visitors gradually edged ahead before gaining further separation in the game’s closing minutes as LCCS gambled and fouled in an attempt to extend the game.
    LCCS was late coming out of the locker room at the half and returned to the court with only 27 seconds left before the start of the third quarter. Their offense did not return to the floor with them after the break despite relatively solid defense.
    “I felt like we played defense well enough to win tonight. We contained the dribble very well and only allowed 51 points. I felt like we just didn’t attack well enough off their traps,” LCCS coach Eric Schlabach said. “A couple of times we got the ball opposite and we got it inside a few times, but we didn’t do that consistently enough.”
    Freshman guard Bailey Breitenstine keyed the strong second half for Chippewa, including seven straight points near the end of the third quarter as the Chipps edged out to a six-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
    His rebound and coast-to-coast drive for a layup to end the third quarter not only made the score 39-33, but prompted LCCS coach Eric Schlabach to swipe at the air in frustration and shout in exasperation, “That can’t happen!”
    Turnovers continued to plague LCCS in the final frame, as did a titanic struggle from the free-throw line. On the night, the Tigers (5-8) made just 4-of-15 from the line, all coming in the second half. Converting charity tosses has become an increasingly significant issue for LCCS as the season has worn on, and giving away points against a talented Chippewa team that attacked all night long put the hosts in too deep of a hole to dig out of.
    “They really took care of the ball and we forced them to take tough shots a lot, but overall, they were really good with the basketball,” Schlabach said.
    With just 18 points after the half, the Tigers found themselves falling further behind
    as Breitenstine (11 of his game-high 17 points in the half)
    and forward William Epling
    (12 points) found their way to the basket consistently. Chippewa also used a drive-and-kick attack to set up corner 3-pointers, and Breitenstine, Noah Purdy and Austin Durbin knocked down key trifectas to extend the Chippewa lead as LCCS stalled out offensively.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Tigers’ 12 missed free throws in the final two quarters, all by seniors Mark Slayman, Trevor Rainieri and Scott Hefty, and 14 turnovers were the obvious culprits in the low-scoring quarters.
    Slayman led LCCS in both scoring and rebounding, posting a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Unfortunately, he was the only player in double figures for the Tigers as Hefty, coming off an all-tournament team selection at the Wellington Jaguar Invitational, struggled shooting both from the field
    (3-of-11) and the line (1-of-3) and managed just eight points.
    Rainieri was also off with his shooting, knocking down 2-of-6 from the field and struggling to a 1-of-7 night from the line.
    Rebounding was the one area where LCCS was markedly better, outrebounding the Chipps 34-20.
    Still, with two of their three leading scorers having off nights, the Tigers simply did not have the firepower to keep pace with Chippewa.
    “They did a good job defensively and rotated really well. There were open shots we could have taken advantage of, but it wasn’t like they were wide open. They did a good job of taking away the inside passes as well,” Schlabach said.
    The defeat came on the heels of two close losses over the weekend in the Columbus area, but Schlabach did not believe the subpar second half was tied to tired legs from playing three close games in a five-day span.
    “There may have been a little bit (of fatigue), but I don’t think anything that was noticeable,” he said.

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