Saturday, December 13th, 2008
By Ryan Hines
Bulldogs come alive in the fourth
  Celina looked to be in danger of losing its home opener at the Fieldhouse on Friday night through the first three quarters of play, but the Bulldogs turned it on in the final eight minutes of action.
The Bulldogs dominated play in the fourth quarter and turned a three-point deficit into a 67-56 victory as Celina is now 1-1 on the young season.
"I think that winning our first home game is big for our confidence and we beat a pretty good Linden McKinley team tonight with their athleticism and their length," said Celina head coach Chris Bihn.
Celina trailed 47-44 after the first three quarters of play, but the Bulldogs outscored Linden McKinley 23-9 in the final quarter with an aggressive offense. The Bulldogs have wanted to play more up-tempo this year and the fourth quarter couldn't have gone better for the home team.
Jared Bader helped Celina tie the score at 47-47 early in the fourth quarter on a three-pointer from the corner and Derek Gagle hit one-of-two from the free-throw line to give the Bulldogs the lead at 48-47.
Marcus Bennett converted a difficult three-point play to put Linden McKinley back on top briefly at 50-48, but for the next 5:04 it was all Celina.
The Bulldogs went on a 15-0 run to turn a tightly-contested game into a blowout in the end as Celina went on top 63-50 with only 1:52 to play in the game. Jake Green got loose in the post for six points, Waterman drove to the hole for four points and the duo of Gagle and Kahl LaRue combined for five points in the game-deciding run for the Bulldogs.
"I thought that we were playing pretty well through the first three quarters, but then in the fourth quarter we just fell apart," said Linden McKinley head coach LeAnthony Jones. "They gave us a different look on their press and I think that they got out in transition and were more aggressive going to the basket. I think we got nervous."
Bihn sure liked what he saw from his team in the fourth quarter.
"I think that we took better care of the ball in the fourth quarter and I also think that we did a better job of being aggressive on offense and taking the ball to the basket," said Bihn. "We were defensive on offense through most of the first three quarters, but I think that in the fourth quarter we did a much better job of getting into our transition offense and attacking the basket."
Linden McKinley (0-2) tried to get back into the game by fouling the Bulldogs in the final minute of play, and despite a dismal night at the charity stripe (13-of-26), Celina coasted to the victory down the stretch with the Panthers struggling to find any offense. The Panthers shot just 21-of-59 from the field in the game (36 percent).
Sean Rogers, who stands just 6-2, was a beast in the paint for Linden McKinley as he used his athletic ability to score a team-best 14 points while adding a game-high 13 rebounds. Marcus Bennett netted a dozen for the Panthers while Dwight Clerk hit for 10 points.
Celina got the balance that Bihn is looking for as four different Bulldogs hit for double figures in the game. Gagle led all scorers in the contest with 19 points, Green hit for 17 points, Waterman 14 points and Bader 10.
"We need the balance to be successful and we got that tonight," said Bihn. "We had a lot of people contributing and that's the style of basketball that we want to play."
Celina will open Western Buckeye League play next Friday on the road at Wapakoneta.
Additional online stories for this date
Print edition only stories for this date
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• Duesway Inc. approved for revolving loan
• Wenning hits short jumper for Cavs win
• Defense carries St. Henry to victory
• Cold shooting spells doom for Indians
• Parkway wins and Flyers fall on road
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