Van Wert's Jacoby Kelly gets Lincolnview defender Chayten Overholt off balance as Kelly attempts a shot during a basketball game on Saturday night. (DHI Media/John Parent)
Van Wert's Jacoby Kelly gets Lincolnview defender Chayten Overholt off balance as Kelly attempts a shot during a basketball game on Saturday night. (DHI Media/John Parent)

VAN WERT – An aggressive effort on both ends of the floor helped Van Wert to a 50-42 win over Lincolnview at the Cougar Den on Saturday night.

The Cougars played their trademark tough man-to-man defense for most of the night, and hounded Lancer shooters into a 2-for-17 night from 3-point range. On the other end of the floor, the Cougars regularly attacked the basket and went to the free throw line 28 times.

"The ball needs to go inside for our team this year, and that's going to equal free throws and layups," Van Wert head coach Mark Bagley said. "When you get higher-percentage shots, you've got a better chance to win."

Van Wert's defense kept Lincolnview from finding much of a rhythm on offense. The Lancer led 4-3 early, but went scoreless over a five minute stretch in the opening period as the Cougars built an 11-4 lead. Six of those Cougar points came from senior guard Jacoby Kelly, who drove the lane for a difficult layup with 4:16 to play in the period, then drilled a pull-up trey on the next trip up the floor. Kelly led the Cougars with 14 points on the night to go with 7 rebounds.

As they did all evening, the Lancers fought back. Isaic Bowersock scored in the post to cap the first quarter scoring, and Alek Bowersock found an opening in the lane on a Jorge Salinas assist to start the second quarter. Chayten Overholt's drive to the bucket continued the Lancer run and made it 11-10, Van Wert.

The Cougars got back to their attacking style on both ends, as Nate Place finished a drive in the lane to break the Lancer streak. A short while later, Place picked a Lancer pocket near mid court and scored an a fast break layup as part of an 8-0 Van Wert spurt to stretch the lead back to 19-10. The Cougars led 26-18 at the break.

"We couldn't get over the hump," Lincolnview head coach Brett Hammons said. "It seemed like we would get it to four points or one possession and then they'd make a play, or their would be a foul called on us or we'd miss a shot or turn it over; it always seemed that we couldn't quite get there, but like I told our guys, I don't ever have any doubt that they're going to battle for me."

The Cougars stretched the lead out to 10 three times in the second half, and it grew to as many as 12 when Drew Bagley scored in the low post to begin the fourth quarter, but each time, the Lancers came back. Overholt went on a personal 6-0 run following Bagley's hoop, but Kelly ended that spurt with a fast break bucket. Caden Ringwald then finished an acrobatic reverse layup for the Lancers, getting fouled on the play. He missed the free throw, but a Lancer offensive rebound eventually got Ringwald back to the line -where he made a pair- for a 40-35, Van Wert, scoreboard.

"I want to give Lincolnview a lot of credit; their kids battled like crazy," Bagley said. "We had a couple of chances to kind of knock them out, but they didn't go away. Some of that was our own doing with some careless turnovers and some missed free throws, but tehir guard play is outstanding. They're going to be a tough out this year."

After a Cougar timeout, Place found an open lane to the hoop for a layup, then scored in the low post on the next trip, extending the Van Wert lead back to nine and effectively sealing the win.

"I called a timeout because we weren't executing," Bagley said. "Coach Covey did a nice job of making some adjustments on our offensive sets and we executed two played perfectly: we got a layup with Nate Place when he was wide open, and then we posted Nate up. What we're trying to do is post up a lot of different guys. We got four points there that really gave us separation."

Blake Henry finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds for the Cougars. Place added a dozen points, 3 boards and 3 steals. Ringwald led the Lancers with 18 points. Overholt added 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals before fouling out in the closing minutes.

"We battled. We only turned it over 10 times, and we shot it a little better in the second half from 2-point range," Hammons said, "but I don't know if, in the remaining 21 regular season games if we'll shoot it as badly as we did tonight. They were chasing us off every screen and made it difficult on us. That, and we got them to the free throw line way too many times."

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LINCOLNVIEW (42)

Caden Ringwald 7-12 3-5 18, Chayten Overholt 5-14 3-4 13, Tristin Miller 2-6 0-0 4, Zane Miller 1-4 0-2 3, Isaic Bowersock 1-3 0-0 2, Alek Bowersock 1-2 0-0 2, Jake Bowersock 0-0 0-0 0, Logan Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Jorge Salinas 0-1 0-0 0; Totals 17-43 6-11 42

VAN WERT (50)

Jacoby Kelly 5-8 3-7 14, Nate Place 5-9 2-3 12, Blake Henry 2-4 9-12 13, Jonathan Lee 0-1 1-2 1, Drew Bagley 3-9 0-2 6, Owen Treece 0-2 2-2 2, Thane Cowan 1-2 0-0 2, Joey Schaufelberger 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 16-35 17-28 50

Lincolnview 6 12 8 16 - 42

Van Wert 11 15 10 14 - 50

3-point field goals: Lvw 2-17 (ZMiller, Ringwald), VW 1-8 (Kelly); Rebounds: Lvw 27 (TMiller 6), VW 28 (Kelly 7); Assists: Lvw 9 (Williams 3), VW 6 (Kelly 3); Turnovers: Lvw 10, VW 7; Fouls: Lvw 23, VW 14; JV score: VW 51-34