By Nick Johnson
Times Bulletin Correspondent
PAULDING — Paulding used a suffocating defensive attack and a tremendous night at the free throw line to pull away late in a 51-38 win over Northwest Conference rival Lincolnview on Friday night.
The Panthers defense applied pressure from the opening tip, not only causing turnovers, but emphasizing the pressure on Lincolnview senior Kyle Williams. The four-year starter who poured in 23 points during the Lancers’ win over Wayne Trace on Tuesday night, was held scoreless in the first half on Friday night.
Fortunately for the Lancers, junior guard Justis Dowdy played big early on.
Dowdy got the scoring started with a layup, but Paulding’s Guy Harder scored the next four points and Kyle Kauser knocked down a jumper to give the Panthers a 6-2 edge. Dowdy, however, poured in the last five points of the period, knocking down a 3-pointer and adding a leaner to give Lincolnview a skinny 7-6 lead after one quarter.
Dowdy’s spree didn’t end there, however. He extended his personal scoring run to 7-0 with a layup and sophomore Austin Leeth followed with a hoop to give Lincolnview an 11-6 lead.
That’s when things went a little south for the Lancers, as Harder nd Kauser each scored to slice the margin down to one and, after a Connor McCleery tip-in, Kauser drained a 3-pointer to tie the score at 13-13.
Paulding bench came up big, as Javier Gonzalez made a pair of free throws, then drained a triple to give Paulding a 20-15 lead at the half.
Kauser made another three to open the second half, then came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup and suddenly, the Lancers were looking up at a 25-15 deficit.
Williams finally got involved for Lincolnview, scoring seven quick points in the third period, but Gonzalez drilled another trey to help off-set the Lancer run. Still, when Eli Farmer knocked down a three for the corner as time expired in the period, Lincolnview had trimmed the margin to three at 36-33.
With as poorly as the Lancers had executed on offense, to that point, they had to feel good about being very much alive to start the fourth. Turnover problems persisted, however, and the Lancers managed just a single field goal in the final period. Meanwhile, Paulding was nothing but clutch, knocking down 13-of-14 fourth-quarter free throws en rout to sealing the victory.
The Panthers forced 21 Lancer turnovers on the night and made 19-of-20 (95 percent) from the stripe. Those two stats made all the difference in the game.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming in. We knew we were going to have come in and play well and we knew the pressure they put on teams,” noted Lancer head coach Brett Hammons. “We stressed that in practice, coming into the game. We knew we had to take care of the ball, and when you come into the game, in an environment like this, and play a team like Paulding, you can’t have 21 turnovers. That, and we didn’t shoot the ball very well. Paulding came in and made plays when they need to, and made foul shots at the end of the game when they need to.”
The Panthers were paced by Kauser’s 18 points, though they also had strong games from Harder, who had eight points and eight rebounds, and Gonzalez, who added eight points as well.
Lincolnview was led by Dowdy’s 13 while McCleery scored nine off the bench. Williams was limited to those seven third-quarter points.
“Justis played well for us, but, unfortunately for us, he got in a little bit of foul trouble. When he is playing that well we need to keep him on the floor. Like I told the guys, teams are going to key on Kyle, and he was only able to get three of four open looks here and there. But in those situations, other guys have to step up and help carry the team and make plays for us. Unfortunately, we didn’t step up and do that tonight,” finished coach Hammons.
The Lancers fall to 10-9 on the season and move to 5-2 in NWC play. They host Parkway on Saturday night. Paulding will face Bryan on Saturday. The Panthers move to 4-3 in NWC action and 15-5 overall.
Score by quarters
Lincolnview 7 8 18 5- 38
Paulding 6 14 16 15- 51
Leeth 4, Williams 7, Dowdy 13, Adams 0, McCleery 9, Farmer 3, Ludwig 2
Edwards 0, Vance 6, Kauser 18, J. Gonzalez 8, T. Gonzalez 2, Ge. Harder 2, Gu. Harder 8