Gehlen Catholic broke open a close game in the fourth quarter to race to a 58-49 second-round victory over Lawton-Bronson in the Class 1A District Boys Basketball Tournament Thursday in Kingsley.
Mitch Kurth and Eric Rohe paced the Jays' scoring effort with 15 each. Craig Schlesser added 10, Ryan Langel nine and Alex Loutsch seven. Brad Lakes and Aaron Peterson led L-B with 14 each while Michael Beavers added ten.
Rebounding played a big role in Gehlen's win as the Jays outboarded L-B 30-20. Langel and Kurth each brought down seven while Rohe and Schlesser had six apiece. Loutsch had ten assists while Schlesser and Rohe each had four and Kurth three. Langel blocked two shots and Rohe blocked one.
"We played pretty flat-footed tonight defensively," said Gehlen Coach Mike Langel. "We just weren't real aggressive. We'd get out a little bit in front and relax a little too much and let them right back in it."
L-B used a combination of outside shooting and inside passing to establish an early 8-4 lead, but inside work from the Jays tied the score at eight. A Kurth three-pointer with time winding down in the quarter gave Gehlen a 13-10 lead after one.
The Jays scored the first four points of the second to lead 17-10 but L-B fought back to trim Gehlen's lead to 19-16. The Jays had another four-point run before the Eagles closed the gap once again to 23-20 at the half.
A three-pointer by Beavers tied the score at 23 at the beginning of the third, and the teams traded leads before Gehlen had yet another scoring run to lead 38-34 after three.
L-B kept it close in the fourth before a Loutsch three-pointer with 4:40 remaining gave the Jays a 46-40 lead that the team never relinquished.
"That kind of sparked us," said Langel. "It picked up our intensity. Some of the seniors stepped up and worked a little harder and got a little more aggressive on defense. We also got the shots we needed towards the end."
With time winding down in the game, several missed three's by L-B plus key free throws by Schlesser and Rohe brought the game to its final score.
"We were pretty patient on the offensive end," said Langel as the Jays shot 21-38 - 55 percent - from two-point range, 3-10 from three and 7-10 from the line. "Mitch had a nice game offensively inside. When he got the ball inside, he'd make a nice move and get a bucket for us. Eric played a nice game, kind of a quiet 15 points."
Langel has the weekend to prepare his team for a tough Boyden-Hull squad in the tournament's next round. The Comets handily defeated Kingsley-Pierson 74-38 earlier in the evening.
"They're a lot more physical," said Langel about B-H. "We're going to have to match their physicalness. Their point guard Eric Van Ginkel played last year against us and I think he's one guy we have to control. Chad Bolkema is more of an inside player - not a big post player, but he has a nice shot. We have to pick up our defensive intensity if we want to have a chance to be successful. They're definitely in our range, but we're going to have to play well."
The win evens Gehlen's season record at 11-11. Boyden-Hull brings a 16-6 record into Monday's third-round contest against the Jays in Kingsley. That game starts at 7:00 pm.