WILLARD — The locker room was nearly empty when Lucas coach Taylor Iceman met the media after Tuesday’s disheartening 51-39 loss to Colonel Crawford in the Division IV district semifinals at Robert L. Haas Gymnasium.
The Cubs had gone ice cold in the second half as the Eagles pulled away from a 27-27 halftime tie to win going away. Iceman was at a loss to explain his team’s frosty shooting performance.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well,” Iceman said. “They are big and long and it’s hard to get to the rim. If you can’t make jump shots it makes it hard to score the ball.”
The Cubs (19-6) fell behind 35-29 midway through the third but battled back and trailed 35-33 after an Ethan Sauder 3-pointer with 46 seconds remaining in the period. That is as close as Lucas would get, however, as the Eagles (20-4) responded with a 9-1 run capped by a Reis Walker corner 3-pointer for a 44-34 lead with 3:33 left in the fourth.
“We had a couple defensive lapses and they got buckets,” Iceman said. “Then we tried to force some jump shots.
“You can’t expect them to turn the ball over and let you back in the game.”
The Cubs had no answer for Chase Walker, Crawford’s sophomore forward. The 6-foot-3 Walker had 18 points and 11 rebounds, including seven at the offensive end,
“He’s had a motor like that all year,” Colonel Crawford coach Dave Sheldon said. “He plays so hard. He’s relentless.”
Walker scored six points in the third as the Eagles began to create some separation.
“That’s my favorite part of the game, going to get rebounds,” Walker said. “I was able to take advantage of my height and I just went and got it.”
Jordan Fenner backed Walker with 16 points. Gavin Feichtner added eight.
Riley Gossom led Lucas with 11 points. Ethan Sauder added 10, while Logan Niswander had a hard-earned nine.
“We did a phenomenal job on Niswander,” Sheldon said. “That’s a credit to Reis Walker.”
The Cubs, who started five underclassmen Tuesday, won their first outright conference championship since 1991. The 19 wins were the most since the 1999-2000 season.
“The kids are upset with the loss, but we told them people are going to be talking about this team for a long time,” Iceman said. “It’s tough right now, but we did a lot of really good things this year.”
The Eagles will play South Central for the district title at 7 p.m. Friday at Willard. South Central beat Margaretta 57-53 in overtime in Tuesday's early game.
"They are very talented," Sheldon said of South Central. "It's a good basketball team. It's time to go to work."