LUCAS — It was the most meaningful regular season game in nearly 30 years and Lucas wasn’t about to let the moment slip away.
Ethan Sauder scored a career-high 22 points and the Cubs clinched the outright Mid-Buckeye Conference championship with a resounding 65-52 win over St. Peter’s on Friday at the Cub Cave.
The conference crown is the first for Lucas (12-5, 9-0) since 1991. That year, the Cubs shared the MBC title with Centerburg.
Lucas had a near miss under Todd Krill in 2000, finishing a game behind Ontario in the rugged North Central Conference. Krill sat court-side Friday night as the Cubs sealed the deal.
“That was the last time Lucas was seriously good at basketball and … they didn’t even get to play in a game like this,” said Lucas coach Taylor Iceman, who played for Krill in the early-2000s. “To have (our guys) come out and play as hard as they did and as well as they did, it’s awesome.”
The Spartans (11-7, 7-2) led 4-2 early before the Cubs flipped the switch. Lucas outscored St. Peter’s 16-2 over the final 4:35 to take an 18-6 advantage to the second quarter.
“They shot the ball extremely well tonight,” St. Peter’s coach Joe Jakubick said. “That is the most points we’ve given up in a long time.”
St. Peter’s sharpshooter Caleb Stewart scored five quick points to cut the Lucas lead to 18-11 early in the second, but the Cubs closed the quarter on a 14-3 run to take a 32-14 lead to the half. Sauder had five points in the period and eight in the opening half.
“It feels great,” Sauder said. “I’m happy for our team. We worked hard all week in practice.
We wanted to get this win and we did.”
The hot shooting continued in the second half for the Cubs. Lucas scored 21 points in the third quarter and took a 53-31 advantage to the fourth.
“We’ve struggled shooting the ball, but we’ve got a lot of good shooters,” Iceman said. “It’s nice, especially in a big game, to see it come to fruition like that.”
Sauder, who had never scored 20 points in a game before Friday, had plenty of help. Logan Niswander had 16 points, while Riley Gossom added 13. Carson Hauger chipped in with seven.
Stewart led the Spartans with 22 points. Luke Henrich had 15, while Eli Gurski added 12.
The Cubs could complete a perfect run through the MBC with a win over Loudonville on Feb. 15.
“I keep telling everybody we haven’t played our best game yet,” Iceman said. “We were good at times tonight. If we can figure it out and play consistently, we are pretty good.”