BOYS BB: Lewis Cass slips past Caston in fourth quarter

Feb. 14—While the Caston and Lewis Cass girls basketball teams made history by winning their first regional championships last weekend, the boys teams for both schools are playing their best basketball of late as well.

The boys squads met up for a midweek game Tuesday night in Fulton and the fans were treated to another good contest between the teams.

Much like the Cass County Tournament game that went to overtime in November, it was another close game Tuesday night. This time the Kings got a little separation in the fourth quarter and held on for a 48-43 victory.

The Kings shot 15 of 16 from the foul line (94%) in the win. They entered the game shooting 60% on the season. The Comets shot 4 of 8 from the line for the game.

Cass coach Eric Branz talked with WLHM's Grady Davis and Dirk Tocco following the game of his secret to success on the night.

"A couple years ago when we went to D-One Camp our team won the free throw competition that the camp runs so that is my undershirt tonight, and we needed every single one of those to pull this one out tonight," Branz said.

L.J. Hillis made all 10 of his free throws and finished with 18 points to lead the Kings (8-11). Bryce Rudd was also in double figures with 13 points. Brennan Deeter added nine and Trey Johnson and Brody Hillis chipped in four apiece.

The Kings have now won three straight games against Rochester, North Miami and Caston.

The Comets (9-10) were coming off back-to-back wins over Argos and North Judson.

They fell into a 13-6 hole after one quarter against the Kings but opened the second with a 14-3 run to take a 20-16 lead. They led 23-22 at halftime.

The third quarter was back and forth as well and the Kings led 35-33 after three. Kade Zeider opened the scoring in the fourth with a 3-pointer to give the Comets a 36-35 lead.

But the Kings responded with an 8-0 run, led by Hillis, who scored six straight points. Rudd knocked down two free throws with 1:40 remaining to make it a 43-36 game.

Caleb Stinson scored on a putback basket for the Comets, but Brody Hillis scored on an inbounds play with the assist to his older brother L.J. to make it 45-38 with :45 left.

Josh Evans canned a 3 to bring the Comets back to within four. But Rudd knocked down two free throws with :24 left. Stinson scored on a drive to make it 47-43, but Deeter hit 1 of 2 free throws with 12.3 seconds left to cap the scoring. His free throw miss snapped a streak of 15 in a row made by the Kings in the contest.

Zeider had 11 points which included three 3-pointers to lead the Comets. Stinson scored 10. Grant Yadon had eight and freshman Lane Hook added six. Evans and Reed Sommers each added three and Carter Clingler chipped in two.

"We did some good things defensively, but they made us pay on a few possessions when we didn't show urgency on rotations or on the boards," Caston coach Carl Davis said. "They did a good job of being patient and getting to the free throw line. They took advantage of getting there twice as much as we did and they hit 15 of 16.

"We got good looks at the rim but didn't get shots to fall in a couple different stretches including one in the fourth quarter. We had a few sit on the rim and roll off. There was very little margin for error on a night like that for us.

"Hat's off to the job coach Branz has done with his group and a very challenging schedule. Not the result we wanted, but I am proud of the differences you can see in our guys between our two matchups with them this season. They continue to improve and grow."

Branz was happy to escape town with a win.

"They're a very solid team that's well coached. Coach Davis does a tremendous job," he said. "Their offense I think is a lot like ours. They like to hit the high post quite a bit. That's in our arsenal, we don't go to it quite as much this year. But they cut extremely hard, they change the pace of their cuts. There's just a lot of details that if you're not paying close attention that you don't see. The actions they run are very tough to guard. They can put up a lot of points if you want to play up-tempo with them.

"For us in the last four games it's kind of been those grind-it-out games which is what we really enjoy. I love that for our guys. I'm extremely proud of this. We got our third one in a row. It is nice to get that third. You want to win a sectional you've got to find a way to win three in a row a lot of times. I think mentally for us to kind of check that box, we can win three in a row. These guys are playing well.

"Defensively I don't know if everybody else sees it but I think the effort they give on their rotations are so much better than what they were at the beginning of the year. It's just a testament to these guys coming in and enjoying the process every single day in practice because that's what we spend quite a bit of time on. I love them for that and I'm just so thankful for these guys."

The Kings host Western on Saturday. Due to the girls basketball semistate at Logansport that day, the boys JV game will tip off at 3:30 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 5 p.m. in Walton.

The Comets travel to LaVille the final time for a conference game Friday night.