LAKEWOOD — It hasn’t been the season either team had been hoping for.
But Evan Chmura and Jed Murtha combined to make Hearts For Jesus’ season a little brighter Thursday night with a 58-42 victory over First Baptist.
Chmura scored a game-high 20 points and Murtha added 15 as the Guardians pulled away in a Lake Effect Conference game played at St. Luke’s gymnasium.
Hearts for Jesus (2-6, 2-4 LEC) trailed 16-14 midway through the second quarter, but Chmura put them back in front with a 3-pointer with 2:08 to play in the half and the Guardians rode a 7-2 run to a 23-18 halftime advantage.
The Guardians saved their best work for the third quarter, scoring 24 points in the quarter — 17 coming from Chmura and Murtha.
“We talked in the locker room at halftime about coming out more aggressive and with more intensity,” Murtha said. “We’ve lost a couple of close games already this year so we knew we had to come out strong. We changed our strategy on offense to move from the inside out, and that got us great looks from the 3-point line.”
Chmura connected on four of his team’s six 3-pointers.
Depth has been a concern all season for Hearts For Jesus, which only used seven players in the game. Coach Bill Taylor said the Guardians’ short bench sometimes limits what they can do on defense.
“We were able to play with more defensive intensity in the second half,” Taylor said. “We have the tendency, because we don’t have a lot of guys, to lay back so we don’t get into foul trouble. Tonight we just went all out and went after it.”
With just one senior on its roster, First Baptist (2-8, 1-5) has seen its share of troubles this season.
“Our defense was not where it needed to be tonight,” Sabres coach Paul Schotz said. “I don’t know if we ran out of gas but we weren’t moving our feet well and just couldn’t get to where we needed to be. Offensively we were moving the ball well, but the fact is we are a team that is rebuilding right now and some of things we’re doing right now are going to help us next year.”
Junior Matt Plog led First Baptist with 13 points, junior Corey Williams added 11 and junior Chad Parker finished with 10.
One place First Baptist excelled was at the foul line. The Sabres were a perfect 6-for-6 on free throw attempts.
There were three lead changes in the game, but the Sabres were never able to pull closer than four points in the second half.
The Sabres will have limited opportunities to improve their game on the practice floor with three LEC games coming in a five-day span next week, beginning Monday when they host Euclid New Day Academy.
“We haven’t had a practice since Saturday,” Schotz said. “I think that was one of the reasons we just couldn’t get into rhythm tonight and you could see our stamina was down. Now again we won’t have much of a chance to practice until next Thursday, so we’ll just have to keep battling through.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Hearts For Jesus 58, First Baptist 42
FIRST BAPTIST (42): Matt Plag 5-0-13, Chase Parker 2-2-6, Devin Klime 1-0-2, Corey Williams 4-1-11, Chad Parker 3-4-10. Totals 16-6-42.
HEARTS FOR JESUS (58): Evan Chmura 8-0-20, Tyler Boll 4-0-9, Andrew Taylor 2-4-8, Jed Murtha 5-4-15, Michael Rizzuti 3-0-6. Totals 22-8-58.
First Baptist 10 8 16 8 — 42
Hearts For Jesus 12 11 24 11 — 58
Three-point goals: First Baptist (Plag 3, Williams); Hearts For Jesus (Chmura 4, Boll, Murtha). Field goals: First Baptist 16-57 (28 percent), Hearts For Jesus 22-55 (40 percent). Free throws: First Baptist 6-6 (100 percent), Hearts For Jesus 8-13 (62 percent). Rebounds: First Baptist 31, Hearts For Jesus 50. Turnovers: First Baptist 11, Hearts For Jesus 13. Total fouls: First Baptist 12, Hearts For Jesus 5.