3-point line sparks Lincoln-Way Central’s win over Lincoln-Way West

Long range shooting helps Knights to 3-0 start

NEW LENOX — The 3-point line sometimes can be either a team’s best friend or its worst enemy.

It was a bit of both for the Lincoln-Way Central boys basketball team Friday night, but fortunately for the Knights, its union with the team was more of a friendly nature during a 67-60 win over Lincoln-Way West.

The Knights (3-0) sputtered a bit in the first half and found themselves trailing, 32-31, at the break when Reagan King dropped in a 3-pointer at the halftime horn for the Warriors (0-2).

But a different Lincoln-Way Central team emerged from the locker room, and it was one that had found its long-range touch. The Knights drained six 3-pointers in the third quarter, with five players hitting at least one during the flurry. The Knights made 12 3-pointers in the game.

“I don’t know if we really had much to do with it,” Lincoln-Way Central coach Bob Curran said. “Right now, we’re scoring points. We’re putting points on the board, and they are showing team spirit and they are finding a way to win right now.”

That long-range marksmanship allowed the Knights to not only reclaim the lead, but command it as the first flurry was part of a 12-0 Central scoring run. Another spree came at the end of the third quarter. James Ogrodnik, who led the Knights with 16 points, knocked down the last of the six 3-pointers, which sparked a 9-3 run to cap a quarter in which Central posted 27 points.

“We were able to get it going after halftime,” Ogrodnik said. “We were just getting a feel for the game in the first half, we had a talk at half, and then we came out firing. It just worked for us. We’re all trying to get each other open shots and all play as a team and not just as a one-man game.”

That rush allowed Central to carry a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter, a cushion it would need when the spigot of scoring abruptly stopped in the fourth quarter. The Knights did not score a point for almost five minutes in the fourth until Joe Barrett finally broke the Central drought by splitting a pair of free throws.

In the interim, West had closed the margin to single digits, but Barrett’s free throw sparked another Central offensive surge, as it rattled off the game’s next six points, effectively securing the win.

The Knights showed tremendous offensive balance. Three other Central players joined Ogrodnik in double-figure scoring in Frank DeCarlo (14), Nick Tingley (10) and Richie LeCren (10). Barrett finished with nine.

That scoring distribution was pleasing to Curran, as his roster construction isn’t making it easy to determine who should be getting minutes at times.

“This has been a hard year. We kept 18 guys, usually summer, fall open gyms, you get the separation. We’re just trying to figure out who should be out there playing,” Curran said. “And that’s frustrating as players because I could be missing the mark. We’re just trying to get some guys minutes here and there.”

West got strong production from Tyler Gabriel, who led all scorers with 19 points, and Connor Jenkins, who finished strong to score 17. King added 11.