ELKHART — Ron Dietz is proud of the fight his Jimtown boys basketball team has shown this season.
Now as the Jimmies enter sectional play on Tuesday, Mar. 4, the veteran coach is hoping his young Jimmies can start playing from the start so the comeback doesn’t have to be quite as big.
On Friday, Feb. 28, the Jimmies trailed Northern State Conference rival LaVille 48-37 with 2:35 to play, before a furious rally — and some missed free throws by the Lancers — had Jimtown within four with the basketball with just over a minute to play.
But a turnover on that possession helped stall the rally, and LaVille would hold on to beat Jimtown, 52-46.
"One of the best parts of this team is the way they have fought and never given up in a game,’’ Dietz said. "The kids have never hung their heads and they never feel that they’re out of a game. Now, we just need to start executing better from the opening tip.’’
On a night that the 2004 state champion Jimtown team was honored at halftime, freshman Sam Pawlak hit his first three shots, as the Jimmies grabbed a quick 6-0 lead and had the big crowd rocking.
But despite hitting just two of it's 11 first quarter shots, the Lancers hung around and trailed by just two at the end of the first eight minutes.
"I thought our kids started to get into them better defensively after the first few minutes,'' Lancer coach Michael Edison said. "They have some really good shooters in (Nick) Floyd and (Adam) DeShone and I thought we did a good job in getting out on them and contesting their shots.''
LaVille junior Blake Berger, who entered the game averaging nearly 23 points-a-game, helped the Lancers control the middle quarters, scoring 19 of his game-high 26.
It was a 6-0 Lancer run starting at the 4:25 mark of the fourth quarter that pushed their lead to 11 with just 2:35 to play. But LaVille, historically a strong free throw shooting team, missed three straight one-and-one's, which opened the door to a Jimtown rally.
Sophomore Dylan Guldager hit a short jumper and two free throws to cut the Lancer lead to 48-41. Floyd then hit an old fashioned three-point play and suddenly Jimtown was within four with 1:20 to play.
A Lancer turnover gave the ball right back to the Jimmies, but this time, Jimtown couldn't pull closer, as a costly turnover took the wind out of the comeback.
Although they were able to connect on just four-of-eight from the free throw line in the final 50 seconds, the Lancers were able to hold off the Jimmies and earn the win.
"In the final three minutes or so, we just opened up the floor and tried to let Guldager create a little,'' Dietz said. "I thought that helped get our offense going a little and caused some match-up problems for them.''
Floyd scored 16 points to lead the Jimmies, while Pawlak and Guldager each had 11. Kyle Kopetski backed Berger with 13 points for LaVille.
"We'll come out tomorrow and Monday and try to improve and get ready to play a really good Marian team in the sectional,'' Dietz said. "These kids will give it all they have and we'll see what happens.''
LaVille 52, Jimtown 46
LaVille — Blake Berger 8-19 6-9 26,, Cameron Gurtner 3-6 2-3 9, Alec Baker 1-2 0-0 2, Isaac Eash 0-2 0-0 0, Kyle Kopetski 5-8 1-3 13, Jason Breden 1-1 0-1 2. Totals: 18-38 (.471) 9-16 (.564) 52.
Jimtown — Dylan Guldager 3-8 5-5 11, Adam DeShone 0-8 0-2 0, Trevor Hobbs 4-11 0-0 8, Nick Floyd 6-10 2-3 16, Sam Pawlak 5-6 1-2 11, Austin Secor 0-0 0-0 0, Kain Templeton 0-0 0-0 0.. Totals: 18-43 (.413) 8-12 (.668) 46..
Scoring By Quarters
LaVille — 6 16 18 12 — 52
Jimtown — 8 7 17 12 — 46
3-point goals: LaVille (7-15) — Berger 4-8, Gurtner 1-1, Kopetski 2-4; Jimtown (2-12) — Floyd 2-4..
Rebounds: LaVille (29) — Kopetski 11; Jimtown (24) —Floyd 9 ..
Steals: LaVille (6) Gurtner 4; Jimtown (5) — DeShone 4..
Turnovers: LaVille 9, Jimtown 12.
Total fouls: LaVille 9, Jimtown 18
Records: LaVille 11-9, Jimtown 7-13.
Next: Jimtown vs. Marian at Class 3A Jimtown Sectional Tuesday, Mar. 4..
JV: Jimtown 37, LaVIlle 19. Top scorers: Jimtown — Blane Bender 9; LaVille — Greg Peppers 7. JV records: Jimtown 11-9.