SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor
Three Van Wert starters combined for 39 points, and the Cougars opened the 2017-2018 basketball season with a 50-42 victory over a scrappy Lincolnview team on Saturday night.
Jacoby Kelly finished with 14 points and six rebounds, Blake Henry had 13 points (including a two-handed dunk early in the game) and seven rebounds, and Nate Place finished with 10 points.
The Cougars led 11-6 at the end of the first quarter, but Lincolnview opened the second stanza with back-to-back baskets by Alek Bowersock and Chayten Overholt to trim the lead to 11-10. But Van Wert went on a 9-0 run to push the lead to 10. Place scored, then consecutive steals led to baskets by Kelly and Place. After a Lincolnview timeout, Place was fouled and hit two free throws to increase Van Wert’s lead to 20-10. Caden Ringwald, who finished with a game-high 18 points, hit two free throws to break Van Wert’s run.
“I want to give Lincolnview a lot of credit,” Van Wert head coach Mark Bagley said. “Their kids battled like crazy, and we had a couple of chances to knock them out, but they didn’t go away.”
Leading 26-18 to start the third quarter, Ringwald and Overholt hit baskets to get within four, but the Cougars went on an 8-2 scoring run to extend the lead back to 10.
The Lancers opened the fourth quarter with a 5-2 run, with Overholt accounting for all five points with two buckets and a free throw, but the closest Lincolnview could get in the final period was five, 40-35 with 3:20 left. Seven of Overholt’s 13 points were scored in the fourth quarter.
“We battled,” Lincolnview head coach Brett Hammons said. “We only turned it over 10 times, which I was pretty pleased with. We shot it a little better in the second half, but I don’t know if in the remaining 21 regular season games if we’ll shoot it as bad from two-point range as we did tonight.”
“Give credit to them (Van Wert),” Hammons continued. “They were chasing us off every screen and made it difficult for us.”
With a season-opening victory in hand, Bagley said the focus now turns to Friday’s game at Crestview. The Cougars and Knights were scheduled to open the season December 1, but the game was pushed back a week.
“I told the kids the best part of being 1-0 is the chance to go 2-0,” Bagley said.
The Lancers will play twice this weekend, hosting Upper Scioto Valley on Friday, then traveling to Continental on Saturday.
“We shoot everyday (in practice),” Hammons said. “We’ll just keep working on that, and I think they’ll start to fall. Every area we’ve got to keep getting better at.”
Van Wert: Nate Place 5-2-12; Jacoby Kelly 5-3-14; Owen Treece 0-2-2; Jonathan Lee 0-1-1; Blake Henry 2-9-13; Thane Cowan 2-0-2; Drew Bagley 3-0-6.
Lincolnview: Caden Ringwald 7-3-18; Chayten Overholt 5-3-13; Alek Bowersock 2-0-2; Tristin Miller 2-0-2; Isiac Bowersock 2-0-2; Zane Miller 1-0-3.
JV: Van Wert won 51-34