Lake's Jared Rettig, left, tries to take the ball from Toledo Christian's Nathan Walton in Friday night’s season opener for both teams. Rettig had 19 points for the Flyers.
A trio of guards and the 3-point shot went a long way in Lake’s season-opening victory over host Toledo Christian on Friday night.
Connor Bowen led the way with 20 points, Jared Rettig had 19, and Cody Witt added 16 as the Flyers hit 11 of their 23 3-point attempts in a 70-52 win over the Eagles.
Lake, the Northern Buckeye Conference runner-up and 19-4 last season, broke things open in the final 10 minutes against the defending Toledo Area Athletic Conference champions, who were 22-3 last year.
“We have a lot of guards this year, and my two post players are injured and couldn’t play tonight,” Lake coach Ryan Bowen said. “I told everybody it had to be a complete team effort.
“We were patient with the offense, and that started turning into more shots and less turnovers. Jared stepped up in the second half, Connor had a great game, and Cody Witt gave us some scoring. It was a good team effort tonight.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Lake vs. Toledo Christian
When TC backup guard Matt Brumbaugh scored his only points of the game on a 3-pointer from the left corner with two minutes left in the third quarter, the Eagles were within 47-43, and the game appeared destined to remain close throughout.
Toledo Christian's Garshawn Paynther, left, who had 19 points, battles Lake's Brandyn Neal for the ball.
It did not.
Lake got a bucket by Bowen from the lane 10 seconds later, and that was the start of a game-breaking 15-3 run by the Flyers over the next 5:52.
“We just came out and got what we wanted,” Connor Bowen said. “This was awesome tonight.”
The big Lake surge was capped by Rettig’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 3:52 remaining, a shot that put Lake up 62-46.
“I think it was ball control,” coach Bowen said of the 15-3 run. “We got better shots than they did. We spread them out and forced them to take some dribble-drive stuff, and they’re more of a set team.
“We like to get the ball to the basket, and I just thought our looks at the end were just better than theirs.”
Rettig was a force late, scoring 13 of his 19 points during the Flyers’ 16-7 fourth-quarter finish. He also topped Lake with six rebounds.
“We know we have a small team with a bunch of shooters surrounding our point guard, Connor, who does a great job running our offense,” Rettig said. “If we start getting hot, [the opponent] is going to be in for a long night. We also did a good job rebounding as a team, and playing good team defense.”
Lake led 15-10 after one quarter, but thanks to a nine-point second-quarter effort from the Eagles’ Kyle Kempton, Toledo Christian was able to take its first lead at 16-15 with 6:45 left in the half, and remained within 32-29 at halftime.
Lake's Cody Witt controls the ball as Toledo Christian's Kyle Kempton falls over him in Friday night’s game. Witt finished with 16 points, while Kempton scored 18.
The closest the Eagles got to regaining the lead was when Garshawn Paynther hit one of two free throws with 3:39 left in the third quarter to get TC within 40-38.
Paynther led the Eagles with 19 points, and Kempton added 18 points, plus eight rebounds. TC’s Ian Gibson grabbed a game-high nine boards.
“I think our inexperience showed up,” Toledo Christian coach Dave McWhinnie said of the final 10 minutes, when his team was outscored 23-9. “We took a couple tough shots when we were in transition, and the Bowen kid had a phenomenal game.”
Lake was 25 of 55 from the field overall, 9 of 15 from the foul line, and forced 16 TC turnovers while committing just seven in the game.
Toledo Christian was 19 of 39 from the field, including 2 of 9 on 3-pointers, and was 12 of 19 at the line. The Eagles won the rebounding battle 29-26.