LAPEL — After being the home of Lapel basketball for 53 years, the “old” Doghouse at Lapel Middle School was once again occupied by the Bulldogs on Wednesday night — thanks to Mother Nature.
Lapel and Tri-Central finally took the court two previous attempts were postponed due to the frigid temperatures and snow that turned central Indiana into a winter wonderland.
Lapel successfully defended the Doghouse by defeating Tri-Central 64-54.
It was the first varsity boys basketball game played on the Dallas Hunter Court since Dec. 29, 2007.
The Bulldogs (8-5) are not known for their height, but team sporting black and gold held a clear size advantage against the Trojans (4-6).
Bobby Steele scored Lapel's first six points in the game's opening 1½ minutes, all came in the paint and were the result of his teammates feeding him the ball.
Ironically, Lapel’s next six points came from beyond the arc, first from Noah Hendershot then Mitchell Richardson.
Just like that, the Bulldogs were up 12-0, and the clock showed just less than five minutes to play in the first quarter.
“It was a good start for us,” Lapel coach Jimmie Howell said. “We had kids playing team ball, and then after we got that lead — we substituted and got some other kids in the game — we did have much drive after that.”
Lapel held a 32-26 scoring advantage in the paint.
“We have got to score more inside,” Howell said. “We have people that can shoot the ball, and we have people that can slash.”
Hendershot led all scorers with 18 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line. Ten of his points were in the second half, eight coming in the fourth quarter.
“My cuts,” the 6-foot-3 junior guard said of the key to the improvement in his second-half stats. “Cut through the middle and (the defender) was not there. Just need to be patient and work the ball around.”
As Hendershot led the way in the second, it was Richardson who accounted for 11 first-half points and closed with 15.
Lapel’s 20-point first quarter lead grew 23 at 36-13 with two minutes to play before the half. The Bulldogs went 0 for 5 during those final couple minutes, and the Trojans mustered just two points to take the deficit to 21 at the half, 36-15.
Coach Kyle Zahn rallied his team, and Tri-Central slowly chipped away at the lead. The Trojans cut the lead to 13 after the third quarter by outscoring the Bulldogs 22-14. They converted all nine of their field goal tries including both from 3-point range.
“They were not doing anything different,” Hendershot said of Tri-Central in the second half. “We were playing individually, trying to score our points.”
Sophomore Dillon Smith led Tri-Central with 12 points, while seniors Dalton Davis and Garrett Dick added 11 apiece.
But, the early Lapel domination was too much to overcome. The Bulldogs have won three straight against the Trojans and five of the last six.
The Bulldogs will play two games in the next three days — at Sheridan on Friday then home against Triton Central on Saturday.
“We seem to be out of shape right now,” Hendershot said. “In practices, we have been showing it. We will just have to bear through it and work hard to get through the next few games.”