LIMA — Scoreboard?
It didn’t matter.
Whatever it had to say was secondary.
All that truly mattered was the condition of two young men.
For the record, the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds defeated the Wapakoneta Redskins 62-45 in a non-league varsity boys basketball contest Thursday night at LCC’s Herr Gymnasium.
But a scary sequence just 29 seconds into the second half made the final score an afterthought.
As both team battled for a rebound under the basket in front of the LCC student section, Redskins senior Kaleb Vondenhuevel collided with another player and fell to the ground. As he tried to get back up, his arms gave out and he fell back to the floor.
LCC’s trainer rushed out to check on Vondenhuevel, who was able to move his extremities but complained of numbness and tingling in his neck.
“He was scared, obviously,” Wapak varsity coach Matt Bradley said. “Who wouldn’t be? Once we got him calmed down he was able to tell us what was going on.”
Paramedics were called and Vondenhuevel lay motionless on the floor for more than 20 minutes waiting on them to arrive with a backboard.
Suddenly cries for a doctor pierced the already-silent gymnasium and LCC students spilled onto the floor around Vondenhuevel as one of their classmates suffered a seizure in the stands.
“To see two kids in the same building, I was very emotional,” said LCC varsity coach Frank Kill, who was among those who rushed to the student’s aid. “I love kids to death and it hurt me to see Wapak’s kid on the ground and one of our students to have that kind of reaction.”
The LCC student was helped out of the gymnasium as paramedics loaded Vondenhuevel onto a stretcher.
Vondenhuevel was taken to St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima for x-rays. Early indications were that there were no fractures.
“He was moving his hands and his feet and had feeling in his hands and his feet,” Bradley said. “Hopefully it’s something minor and he’s able to bounce back quickly.”
Officials had already sent both teams to the lockerrooms and gave them a five-minute warmup when they finally returned to the floor.
The Thunderbirds had just taken a 28-27 lead when the injury to Vondenhuevel happened.
Once action resumed, it was all LCC.
The T-Bird lead grew to 41-33 before LCC went on a 12-0 run to take a 53-33 lead with 5:55 to play.
Wapak never got closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
“I think collectively we just weren’t able to get ourselves mentally ready to go after the long break,” Bradley said.
The first half had been a back-and-forth affair before LCC took a 26-25 lead just before the half.
Wapak quickly retook the lead on Travis Bertram’s long jumper from the right wing just 10 seconds into the half.
But the Redskins never regained that momentum.
“On their state championship t-shirts they have the word ‘resiliency’ on the back,” Bradley said. “They showed resiliency in the second half. We didn’t. And there’s the game.”
“I think it was really hard for Wapak to bounce back,” Kill said. “Kaleb is a hard-nosed player. I would take four of him, just because he does a lot of the dirty work. He is a strong kid. I wish him well. I hope he’s alright.
“A kid like him, where he definitely controls the paint, there are not a lot of easy shots that go up. And he’s a guy in the offense that, he’s got a big body. They throw it to him and he’s going to get a lot of people open. For him to go out, I feel bad for a team like Wapak that was in the game and something like that happen to one of their stars.”
LCC’s Martyce Washington had a breakout performance, dropping in 20 points to lead all scorers.
“That was his best friend, the LCC student who had the incident,” Kill said. “For him to bounce back, he had to be strong. ... It really shook him up.”
Bertram was the only Wapak player in double figures with 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting (38 percent).
Jake Buzzard added nine points. And Vondenhuevel, Alex Greve and Andy Faller contributed five apiece.
Buzzard and Brandon Miller each pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
In the junior varsity contest, Wapak went on a 12-2 run in the final four minutes of the game to turn a 27-27 tie into a 39-29 win.
Jake Bruns hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to ignite the rally.
The Redskins were 7-of-10 from the free throw line in the final three minutes of the game.
Adam Henderson led Wapak with 12 points. Kodi Morgan scored 10 points, four of those from the foul line during the game-winning run.
Bruns finished with nine points.