SIOUX CITY, Iowa — This time, the pressure didn't get to Lewis Central.
Entering their rematch with Sioux City West in Monday's Class 4-A, Substate 1 quarterfinal at Sioux City North, the Titans knew they would need to find a way to handle the Wolverines' defensive intensity — a major reason for West's 65-46 victory on Dec. 19.
Despite losing a first-half lead and facing an 11-point third-quarter deficit, the Titans held their own. They survived a fourth quarter that featured four ties and 10 lead changes to pull out a 75-71 victory.
Four L.C. players finished in double figures, led by senior Mitchell Brinkman, who had a game-high 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Blake Elam added 16, Chad Moran 15, Ja'Chai Baker 11 and Joel Thompson nine, all in the second half.
Monday's performance highlighted a Lewis Central squad that has displayed significant improvement in recent weeks.
"I'm obviously really, really proud of our kids," L.C. coach Dan Miller said. "I think early in the year, that probably would have caved us in. I just thought our resolve to survive was great."
The win advances L.C. (1110) to Friday's substate semifinals at No. 2 Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln.
Brinkman was a major reason the Titans are alive for another game. The 6-foot-4 forward, who will play football at Northern Illinois, scored 16 first-half points.
"I was just making shots, and the team was giving it to me," Brinkman said. "They were just going in tonight."
West's full-court pressure helped turn a 14-11 second-quarter deficit into a 34-31 lead by the half.
A Cliff McCray basket gave the Wolverines their biggest advantage of the night at 44-33 with 5:24 left in the third. But L.C. responded with a 15-6 run over the next five minutes to cut its deficit to four entering the fourth.
Thompson and Elam started the fourth with 3-pointers to give L.C. its first lead of the second half at 54-52 with 6:23 to go.
Neither team could get more than a four-point lead over the next four minutes until a Moran basket evened the game at 69-69 with 2:02 left.
A Marquise Bolden free throw gave West a one-point lead before Baker responded with a basket to give the Titans the lead for good at 71-70.
L.C. now will get another crack at an A.L. team that handed the Titans a 65-52 loss on Feb. 9.
"They're a fantastic team," Miller said. "They've had a fantastic year. I think it'll be a fun atmosphere for the kids to play in. We'll do our best to try to give them a game."
SIOUX CITY NORTH 76, CB THOMAS JEFFERSON 41
Sioux City North used a 13-0 run to start the second half and break the game open in the other Class 4-A, Substate 1 contest Monday at Sioux City North.
The win lifts the Stars (10-12) into Friday's substate semifinal at Sioux City East.
Alex Tillo led North with 15 points, 12 of which came in the third quarter. Dustin Birkes had 12 and Jailen Billings 11.
Devonte Starks was the only T.J. player in double figures with 10 points.
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