LEXINGTON -- Scott Hamilton knew he would need 6-6 sophomore center Baden Forup to step up quickly for his young Lexington basketball team this season.
The rapidly growing Forup filled the bill Tuesday night with 25 points, two rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot in a 63-50 loss to Division III perennial power Oregon Cardinal Stritch from the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.
Never leaving the floor, Forup connected on 11 of 13 FG attempts and was perfect on three attempts from line during a game that featured the larger size and quickness of the Cardinals -- and a Minutemen team that never backed down.
The Minutemen returned just three lettermen and no starters from last year's 13-10 squad, losing six players to graduation. Even with that, Lex was missing two key team members on Tuesday.
"We're going to have some sophomores that are contributing. You know, a lot of these guys were JV guys and never even had varsity minutes, like Baden," Hamilton said.
"He came in and tonight was his night. We we saw an opportunity with the way that they defended the post and he took advantage of it. We expect some good things from him with his size, with his strength, and he's got a nice skill set for a sophomore.
"Hopefully, we don't have to rely on him too much with him being a sophomore, but I think he'll do well. He had a big game tonight and we were happy for him," Hamilton said.
In a COVID-19 delayed season, Lexington district officials last week allowed the season to finally begin with no parents or any other fans in the stands. Moving quickly, Lexington played a game at Temple Christian on Friday, hosted Stritch on Tuesday and will welcome the Lucas Cubs on Wednesday.
None of those games were on the original 2020-2021 schedule.
"It was really nice to get a game last Friday and then to have this one and the one tomorrow, before we get into (Ohio Cardinal Conference games). It feels pretty good to be back. You know, here we are, what, the 22nd of December, and we've just finished our second game of the season," Hamilton said.
The Cardinals, also playing their second game of the season, tried to put the Minutemen away early, jumping out to leads of 13-2 and 33-19 in the first half before settling on a 33-24 edge at the break.
Lexington battled in the second half, cutting the deficit to 33-27 early in the third before Stritch went on a 15-2 run to pump the lead back to 48-29 with 3:25 left in the quarter.
The Minutemen, with a team that features just one senior, closed back to within 10 at 50-40 with 7:01 left in the fourth and had a chance to get the lead back into single digits before the Cardinals eased away again.
"The one thing we kept reminding the kids, 'Hey, we're still in this,' that's our effort," Hamilton said. "We have got to play to the final buzzer. And that's the, one of the things I am proud about the guys, they just kept battling. So give the kids a credit, they stuck with it," Hamilton said.
Lexington junior guard Jack Depperschmidt backed Forup with 11 points, the only other Minutemen in double figures.
Senior guard Jhaiden Wilson led Stritch with 25 points, including five of 11 triple attempts. Sophomore Brendan Revels added 19 points for the Cardinals.
Lexington shot 52 percent (21-40) from the field and hit on five of three foul shots. Stritch connected on 47 of its FG tries (23-49) and added 10 of 13 at the foul line.
Both teams had 23 rebounds. Junior forward Caden Eichler led Lexington with seven. No Stritch player had more than four.
Lexington committed 13 turnovers compared to nine for the Cardinals.