HAMILTON – The first venture into the IHSAA state tournament for the Lakeland Christian Academy boys basketball program ended in a loss Wednesday night.
A tough second half proved costly as the Cougars dropped a 49-36 final to Bethany Christian in first-round action of the Class 1-A Hamilton Sectional.
LCA led 12-8 after the opening period and 26-25 at halftime over the Bruins. Bethany rallied to outscore the Cougars 24-10 in the final half, including 13-4 in the fourth quarter.
Zarek Finley led the Cougars with 18 points and six rebounds. Collin Price had eight points and six rebounds and Calvin Prinsen four points and 12 rebounds.
Chris Maron had two points to go with six rebounds and a team-high four assists for coach Lee Compson’s squad. Billy Pitts and Noah Cole each scored two points for the Cougars.
LCA, which finishes its season at 7-15, went 0-of-9 from the free throw line and 0-of-12 from 3-point land in the loss.
Caleb Morris paced Bethany Christian with 17 points and eight rebounds. Sol Brenneman had 12 points and Abe Thorne seven points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins, who had lost their final 11 games of the regular season coming into sectional action.
Bethany Christian, now 4-17, advances to play defending sectional champion Fort Wayne Canterbury (13-8) Friday night in the second semifinal game at Hamilton. The 6 p.m. semifinal Friday pits Lakewood Park (16-5) versus Elkhart Christian (14-7). The championship game is Saturday at 7:30 p.m.