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12-19-05 Celina wins first of season

By Gary R. Rasberry

  The story of the first four games of the Celina boys basketball season has been moments of solid play hampered by moments of missed opportunities.

Celina freshman Derek Gagle spots up for an open shot during Saturday's game against Greenville at the Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs won for the first time of the season with a 43-39 triumph over the Green Wave.<br></br>

  It appeared for the first three quarters of Saturday's game with Greenville that the fifth game of the season would be in the same category. Then the Bulldogs found an opening and pushed their way through.

  Trailing by as much as nine points in the game and by six with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs outscored the Green Wave 13-3 the rest of the way to pick up their first win with a 43-39 decision at the Fieldhouse.

  While Celina celebrates its first victory, Greenville drops to 0-5 on the season.

  Celina went long stretches without scoring in the first 16 minutes of play. The Bulldogs' first score came with 3:51 left in the opening stanza and trailed 11-4 at one point before outscoring Greenville 5-0 to get back in the game. Celina had two small leads in the second, but Greenville found a way to build cushion, 21-16 at the break.  "The first half, we did a lot of standing around," said Celina coach Chris Bihn. "I'm not quite sure why, but I thought we came out in the second half and started a lot of those things (fundamentals). We played a lot better in the second half, a lot harder."

  The final five minutes of the game overshadowed what was a rough shooting night for the Bulldogs. Celina converted on just 30.4 percent (14-of-46) of its field-goal attempts and just connected on 2-of-20 three-point attempts.

  In the final five minutes, though, Celina got hot, especially senior Scott Luthman.

  The lone veteran returning off of last year's team, Luthman put the team on his back scoring nine points in the final 3:22 of the game and 14 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter. Luthman also pulled down 12 rebounds in the game.

  "We called a few sets. We wanted to get him the ball," said Bihn of Luthman. "He did a great job of responding and stepping up for us in the second half."

  After the Wave's Dusty Elliott buried a three-pointer with 5:08 to go in the game to put Greenville up 36-30, Celina made the turn. Luthman cut it to 36-32 with 3:22 left with a layup.

  Greenville slowed things down in an attempt to force Celina to foul, but with two minutes left, though, Brent Spill was called for an offensive foul to give Celina the ball. Derek Gagle tried a three and missed, but Luthman came up with the rebound and was fouled. Two made tosses tied the game at 36, and after the second make, Greenville's Tyler Hesson was called for an intentional foul underneath the basket.

  Eric Loughridge came on to shoot the two free throws and made one to put Celina up for the first time since the 4:10 mark of the second quarter. After a Greenville timeout, Celina looked to Luthman on the inbounds and he got the basket to make it 39-36.

  Greenville set up for a three-pointer from Elliott, but the shot was off the mark and Gagle got the board before being fouled. Gagle made one of two to make it a two-possession game. Marker, who for a majority of the game personally outscored Celina, hit a three-pointer to cut it to 40-39 with 46.8 seconds left.

  Gagle hit two three throws to make it 42-39, but on the Greenville possession, Gagle was called for an intentional foul, giving the Wave two free throws and the ball. Marker missed both tries, continuing the free throw woes for the Wave, who went 11-of-22 in the game. On the ensuing throw in, Greenville threw the ball away with 9.8 seconds left and Luthman followed with one charity toss to ice the game.

  "We had a good talk at halftime about playing with intensity. They picked it up," said Bihn. "They responded really well.

  "We were able to score down the stretch. In the past we've had some droughts. We were pretty consistent in the fourth quarter. That helps."

  Marker was the only Wave player in double figures with 21 points, but only three came in the fourth quarter.

  Gagle finished with six off the bench for Celina while Andy Muhlenkamp and Chris Post each added five.

  Celina is off until Dec. 27 when it hosts the annual HALLiday Shootout at the Fieldhouse. Bryan, Worthington Kilbourne and North Canton Hoover will make the trip for the two-day tournament.


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