LAPEL — It was a tale of two teams, both Lapel, in a game that showcased both brilliance and despair.
In the end, though, the Bulldogs pulled off a win over visiting Greenfield-Central 57-54 on Monday, Jan. 14.
Because of heavy weekend snowfall, the game originally set for Saturday was moved to Monday, and coach Jimmie Howell said Monday games are difficult.
“Mondays are tough. You haven’t practiced Saturday and can’t Sunday,” he said.
After a slow start from the tipoff, the Bulldogs bounced back to take a 14-8 first-quarter lead with Luke Richardson scoring eight of his 20 points in that first stint.
Cougar Caleb Mundel kept Greenfield-Central in the game with five quick points, and before the second quarter was but a few minutes old, the Cougars had tied the game at 17.
Mundel was on fire, scoring 18 points in the first half. Mixed with that and Bulldog missed shots and 13 first-half turnovers, the second quarter belonged to the Cougars, who went into the locker room with a 33-23 lead.
“We really needed to come out with energy tonight. We failed to do that in the first half, but early in the third quarter, we got rolling,” Richardson said.
Once the second half started, the Bulldogs ramped up their game, going on a 12-2 run led by freshman Blake Mills, whose two quick buckets cut the Cougar lead to five. Baskets by Richardson and Reid Ratzlaff put the ’Dogs on top 37-35, all in just three minutes.
“This is an up-and-down team, not only game to game, but quarter to quarter,” Howell said.
From there, Greenfield-Central had a one-point lead until Mundel struck again, hitting a three at the buzzer giving the Cougars a 44-40 lead going into the final eight minutes.
G-C climbed to a seven-point lead, but Lapel refused to give in. Mills hits the third of the 3-pointers of the night and was fouled. He missed the opportunity for a 4-point play but had cut the Cougar lead to 48-45.
He went under the basket for two, and it was a 48-47 game with a little more than three minutes to play.
After Mills dumps in another trey, the Bulldogs had a 3-point lead until Greenfield-Central made it a 53-52 game with less than a minute left.
Howell said Mills has given the team great energy.
In the end, the game came down to the free-throw line. Ratzlaff hit two crucial shots to give the Bulldogs a 55-52 lead with 32 seconds remaining.
Cougar Jacob Cochrane took two freebies after a Ratzlaff foul, then Bulldog Carson Huber stepped to the line to sink another two for the final 57-54 score.
“It was a really good comeback,” Howell said. “Anytime you play a close game it helps you. You learn to win close games.”
The Bulldogs are 7-5 and play host to 6-5 New Castle at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19.