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Monday, December 22nd, 2008
By Gary R. Rasberry
Bulldogs edge Flyers for third straight win
Celina goes into the Christmas break with the perfect present - a three-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs had a double-digit lead on Marion Local through the third quarter, then held off a furious Flyer comeback in the final eight minutes to improve to 3-1 with a 55-54 win in a Mercer County circuit battle at the Fieldhouse. The Flyers go to 1-3 on the season.
Celina took the lead over for good midway through the second quarter when Jared Bader sank a three-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 16-15 lead. Marion stayed close through the rest of the quarter to trail 27-20 at the half.
It looked like Celina would pull away at the start of the third quarter, going on an 8-2 run sparked by a three-pointer from Layne Klosterman to make it 35-22 and forcing Flyers coach Keith Westrick to call a timeout. The Flyers would scratch back into the game and get within single digits by the end of the third quarter to trail 40-32.
The Flyers found the groove early in the fourth quarter as Jason Wolters scored six straight points, making the score 40-38 with just 48 seconds gone in the quarter and forcing Celina coach Chris Bihn to call a timeout to settle the troops. Derek Gagle and Bader helped get the lead back to five points quickly, but the Flyers began to gain an advantage on the offensive boards with Gagle having to sit down for part of the quarter with four fouls. Jarren Griesdorn took a steal in for two with 4:16 left to make it 47-46 Celina, the closest the Flyers have been since the first half.
"They started making things happen," said Westrick about the fourth-quarter comeback. "We had some guys that stepped up and started attacking and tried to match the intensity of the ballgame. It was a very aggressive game. Very physical game (35 total fouls called). It was either continue the way we did for three quarters or step it up."
After Bihn called a timeout, the Bulldogs found a way to counter every Flyer threat and maintain a one-point lead for the next two minutes. Gagle, who struggled early with his shooting, finishing 7-of-19 from the floor, hit clutch buckets and free throws, finally giving Celina a three-point cushion at 51-48 with 2:02 to go, only to have Wolters cut it to one again 12 seconds later with a pair of free throws of his own.
"The big thing was being strong, handling the ball and be prepared to be physical," said Bihn. "When it comes down to making plays, the kids played with heart tonight. That was the big thing, that they would not be defeated here tonight. I could see it in their eyes."
Gagle and Wolters traded buckets again, making it 53-52 with less than a minute left. Darin Waterman sank two free throws for Celina with 29.3 seconds left to make it a three-point game again, but Wolters got a bucket to go with 18.9 seconds to make it 55-54. After a Flyer timeout to set the defense, Celina lost the ball on the inbounds, giving Marion the ball near its basket. The Flyers had two big scoring chances in a 15-second span but were unable to score, but did get the ball back with 3.4 seconds left and called a timeout. The inbounds was a lob pass to Luke Bertke inside, but Celina tipped the ball away and Kahl LaRue got the ball and was fouled with 0.8 seconds remaining. LaRue missed both tosses, but Bertke's heave to the basket was short, giving Celina the win.
"A lot of people did a lot of things well for us tonight," said Bihn. "The one that stands out is Kahl LaRue. He didn't have numbers (three points, three rebounds) but I'll tell you, he was in the middle of our zone and he battled, fought and checked out. It was as close an equalizer as we could have."
"These guys played hard and if they keep playing hard with that kind of determination, they're going to be rewarded," said Westrick. "They need everybody to play, all their teammates."
Gagle and Waterman each led the way with 19 points each for Celina, with Waterman going 5-of-6 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line. Gagle added 12 rebounds.
Wolters scored 12 of his 18 points in the final quarter for the Flyers and Nathan Thobe added 10.
Celina is off until Dec. 29 when the Bulldogs host the annual HALLiday Shootout at the Fieldhouse. Celina plays Bryan in the nightcap on the 29th with the opening game pitting Greenville and Bishop Ready.
Marion Local comes back to work on Saturday, hosting Covington.
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