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Published: Wednesday, 1/7/2004

Whitmer prevails over C.C.

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Whitmer's Andre Thompson grabs a rebound from Central Catholic's Steve Phillips. Thompson had 11 rebounds. Whitmer's Andre Thompson grabs a rebound from Central Catholic's Steve Phillips. Thompson had 11 rebounds.
MORRISON / BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Whitmer and Libbey both shook off slow starts last night and rolled to easy City League basketball wins at Savage Hall.

Whitmer trailed after one quarter but used a 19-6 second quarter to take control against Central Catholic, and emerged with a 59-48 win.

Todd Lindroth led the Panthers in scoring with 17 points, Jermaine Fletcher had 13, and forward Andre Thompson stepped up from a recent slump to contribute 14 points and 11 rebounds for Whitmer (3-4 overall, 2-2 CL).

In last night's second contest, Libbey, fresh off a big 67-65 home win over state power Columbus Brookhaven a week earlier, actually trailed Woodward early in the second quarter before blowing things open from there to cruise to an 81-48 triumph.

Jerome Pierce, who scored 29 points including the game-winning shot to beat Brookhaven, Division I state champion in 2002 and runner-up last year, paced the Libbey attack with 24 points. He had 13 in the third quarter.

The Cowboys (6-1, 4-0) also got 14 points and 11 rebounds from David Osby and eight points and 14 boards from Quintin Mitchell.

After grabbing a 9-4 lead on a fast-break layup from Matt Warner with 2:25 left in the first quarter, Central's early momentum drifted away as Whitmer controlled the remainder of the half.

Lindroth answered with the first of his three first-half 3-pointers to pull Whitmer within two, and backup guard J.J. Fought's lean-in bucket with five seconds left in the period kept the Panthers within 13-11. Whitmer then pulled away with its 19-6 second-quarter surge to take a 30-19 halftime lead.

“I had to call a timeout late in the first quarter and talk about how soft we were offensively,'' Whitmer coach Bruce Smith said. “But in the second quarter we did a better job of getting it inside. Then we knocked down three 3s in the second quarter to pull us ahead.

“I've got to give credit to the defense. That's an explosive team and holding them to 48 points is pretty good. I told our team before the game if they score under 50 we're going to win.''

Central, which played even with Whitmer after the break, was led by Warner's 18 points. Freshman forward Sam Bastian added 13 for the Irish (4-3, 1-3).

Central got as close as six points (33-27) with 4:45 left in the third quarter on a Warner drive, but the Panthers responded with a 12-2 run to pull away.

After hitting nine of their first 10 free-throw attempts in the game, the Panthers made things interesting in the fourth quarter by missing seven straight foul shots. But, the cushion they had built proved too much for Central to overcome.

Whitmer was 22-of-43 from the field, outrebounded Central 33-25, and committed 15 turnovers to 14 for the Irish, who were 21-of-52 from the field.

“I knew coming in they were going to be strong defensively, and they were,'' Central coach Paul Patterson said. “They shut us down. And, Thompson killed us with offensive rebounds.

“We knew Fletcher would get his points. But their defensive effort on us was the difference. When teams get right up on us and play us tough, we kind of break down a little bit. We're going to have to get out of that.''

At halftime of the second game, Libbey coach Leroy Bates spent the first couple minutes berating his team for their lackluster play. Then he sent them right back out to the court to warm up.

The strategy seemed to work, as the Cowboys pulled from a 37-30 lead to a commanding 58-35 edge by the end of the third quarter. Pierce led the onslaught during the 21-7 third-quarter blitz, mixing in three 3-pointers among his 13 points in that period.

“The guys came out flat,'' Bates said. “After you play a team like Brookhaven and have a big uplift, then come out here to the University of Toledo, the guys have to be more motivated than they were. In the second half they picked it up and played a much better game.''

Libbey was 33-of-60 from the field and outrebounded the Polar Bears (3-6, 1-3) 46-32. Woodward was 17-of-54 from the field and both teams committed 27 turnovers in what was, at times, a sloppy game.

DeJuan Pettaway and Robert Bell topped the Bears with 10 points apiece.



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