Nicol fuels hot start of 69-59 win over Dayton Christian
CLAYTON — In what head coach Zach Overturf called a “sluggish” performance, Indian Lake had to overcome a slow start to get past 11th-seeded Arcanum in its sectional opener Tuesday.
It was a different story here in the Lakers’ second tourney outing Saturday.
The sixth-seeded Lakers came out on fire behind sensational sophomore Caiden Nicol en route to a 69-59 victory over fourth-seeded Dayton Christian in a Division III boys sectional basketball final at Northmont High School.
“We came out ready to play,” said Overturf. “We got stops on defense and we were able to get out and run.
“We lost to them in our first game of the season. We didn’t guard anybody in that game. Our defense was a lot better today. It all started with our defense.”
Indian Lake (16-8) will get another shot at Cincinnati Taft (14-8) in a district championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday at the University of Cincinnati.
Taft, ranked ninth in the final Division III state poll, defeated the Lakers by seven points in last year’s district final.
“Our guys are excited,” said Overturf. “We knew going into the sectional draw where Taft was going to be and we had a good idea where we were going to be seeded. Our guys wanted another chance to play Taft.”
The Lakers lost to Dayton Christian 82-76 in late November. The rematch quickly took a contrasting tone as Indian Lake turned it into a mostly lopsided affair.
Leading 16-14 with 2:55 left in the first quarter, the Lakers went on a stunning 20-0 run to lead 36-14 midway through the second period.
Nicol, who was third in the Central Buckeye Conference in scoring this winter, provided the firepower for the surge, scoring 18 of his 24 points in the first quarter.
“Luke Jackson hit a couple threes early to get us going and then Caiden was able to get a lot of drives to the basket that he finished,” said Overturf. “That’s how these guys are. When one guy gets hot, it feeds over to the rest of them.”
The Lakers went on to lead by 23 points (43-20) at halftime and they held a 19-point cushion after three quarters.
The Warriors (18-5) went to a full-court press in the fourth quarter in an attempt to make a late comeback. They whittled the Laker lead to nine points with 1:13 remaining, but Indian Lake didn’t let it get any closer.
“We got a little sloppy against their press,” said Overturf. “Those last four minutes weren’t real pretty, but we’ll work on getting that cleaned up.”
While Nicol had the hot hand, he again had plenty of help. Caleb Wurster (14 points) and Jackson (12) also landed in double figures for the Lakers.
Lukas Schwieterman and Logan Evans each had seven points.
“Lukas gave us a nice spark,” said Overturf. “He hit some big shots and his defense was really good, too.”
Jamison Bates scored a game-high 27 and Devin Dreier had 21 for the Warriors, but the rest of the team combined for just 11 points.
Indian Lake 69, D. CHRISTIAN 59
Indian Lake (16-8)
Nicol 11 1-4 24; Wurster 5 4-7 14; Schwieterman 2 2-4 7; Tuttle 2 0-1 5; Jackson 4 1-2 12; Evans 2 2-2 7. Totals: 26 10-20 69.
D. CHRISTIAN (18-5)
Bates 10 5-6 27; Drier 8 4-4 21; Woodall 1 3-3 5; Dabbelt 2 0-0 5; Brown 0 1-4 1. Totals: 21 13-17 59.
Lakers 30 13 11 15 — 69
Warriors 14 6 15 24 — 59
Three pointers: Indian Lake 7 (Jackson 3, Nicol, Schwieterman, Tuttle, Evans); Dayton Christian 4 (Bates 2, Drier, Dabbelt). Team fouls: Indian Lake 15; Dayton Christian 19.