ELKHART — While battling an illness, Elkhart Christian senior Luke Burns lost 10 pounds from an already slim body and missed the Eagles' overtime loss to Fort Wayne Canterbury last Friday.
Back in the lineup Tuesday, Burns showed coach Chad Hibbard and the Eagles' faithful just what they missed.
The 6-foot-4 senior scored 16 points, blocked five shots, grabbed five rebounds, came up with three steals and hit two huge fourth quarter shots, as the Eagles came from behind to beat Bremen, 60-46, in non-conference boys basketball action.
"Luke was great tonight in a lot of ways,'' Hibbard said. "He hit some big shots and his hustle really helped get us back in the game in the second half. He came up with a couple really big blocks and also helped us get some stops defensively late in the game thanks to just working hard and helping deny Bremen some easy baskets.''
Bremen led the game 40-27 with 4:32 to play in the third quarter, before Elkhart Christian went on a run for the ages, finishing the game on a 33-6 run to up its record to 4-6 on the year.
"You have to give Bremen a lot of credit for the way they played tonight and forced us to play our best basketball of the season to win,'' Hibbard said. "We've come back on a lot of teams this year, but it hasn't always led to victories. Tonight, we kept the pressure up and got a nice win.''
An 11-0 run by the Eagles would close the gap to 40-38 with five seconds to play in the third quarter when Bryce Schrock hit a layup. But Bremen's Carson Miller race upcourt and hit a layup of his own just before the buzzer, giving the Lions a 42-38 lead entering the fourth.
But would be the last highlight for Bremen on the night.
Burns started the fourth quarter by hitting a 3-point to pull the Eagles within one. After two free throws by junior Noah Hunt gave ECA the lead, Burns hit a layup with 4:58 to play to push the lead to three.
After the Lions' Trevor Devine's rebound basket made it a one point game once again, the Eagles scored the next 14 points to put the game away. Junior Bryce Coursen had just two points until hitting a pair of 3-pointers during the 14-0 run.
"I think our defensive pressure got to them in the fourth quarter, plus we finally looked more confident and started making our shots,'' Hibbard said. "I thought we also made some real hustle plays after turnovers and either got steals or forced some bad shots.''
The final 12 minutes of the game was almost a complete turnaround from the first half, which Bremen dominated in taking a 30-21 halftime advantage.
The Lions' Reece Willis, the only senior on a very young Bremen roster, was dominant in the first half, hitting four 3-pointers and scoring 16 of the Lions 30 points. It actually took a jumper by Schrock and a pair of free throws by Hunt to cut the Eagles deficit from 13 points with just over a minute to play in the half.
"I thought we did a good job holding them to just eight points in the first quarter, but then Willis just got red-hot and we couldn't seem to find him,'' Hibbard said. "When he was hitting those 3-pointers (three in the second quarter) it seemed to take a lot of air out of our sails and we kept getting further behind. Even at the start of the third quarter we didn't have a lot of fire until our defense started to kick start us.''
In addition to Burns' 16 points, Hunt scored 13 for the Eagles and Matthew Elmerick chipped in nine. Sophomore Matt Burns topped Elkhart Christian with nine boards. Willis was scoreless in the second half, but still led Bremen with 16 points. The Lions now 3-7, were just 7-30 from the field in the second half and 2-14 in the fourth quarter.
Elkhart Christian will take a week off before hosting South Bend Trinity next Tuesday. Bremen travels back to Elkhart on Friday to face Central at North Side Gym.
ELKHART CHRISTIAN 60, BREMEN 46
BREMEN: Reece Willis 6-12 0-0 16, Tony Hardin 3-16 0-0 8, Trevor Devine 5-11 1-2 11, Ty Feldman 2-2 0-0 4, Carson Miller 2-11 1-2 5, Connor Hundt 0-0 0-0 0, Zach Carnecki 0-0 0-0 0, Grant Devine 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 19-53 2-4 46.
ECA: Luke Burns 6-12 2-4 16, Bryce Coursen 3-8 0-0 8, Charlie Maxwell 0-1 0-0 0, Matt Elmerick 2-7 4-6 9, Matt Burns 3-6 2-2 8, Noah Hunt 4-4 5-6 13, Bryce Schrock 2-3 2-2 6, Seth Jachimiak 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Buckles 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-41 15-20 60.
3-point goals: Bremen (6-28) – Willis 4-7, Hardin 2-11; ECA (5-15), L. Burns 2-4, Coursen 2-4, Elmerick 1-5. Total fouls: Bremen 17, ECA 11; Turnovers: ECA 15, Bremen 14. Rebounds: Bremen (21) – Miller 6; ECA (36) – M. Burns 9. Records: ECA 4-6, Bremen 3-7.