By BRIAN LESTER
As the second half wore on Saturday afternoon against Lake Erie College, the only remaining shred of drama was if University of Findlay junior forward Greg Kahlig would get to 1,000 career points.
Kahlig put an end to it with seven minutes to play, taking a cross-court pass from Jake Heagen as he stood on the right side of the 3-point line and knocking it down like he has so many times before.
The shot put him at 1,000 and gave the Oilers a commanding 59-31 advantage in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game they would go on to win 67-41 at Croy Gymnasium.
Kahlig finished with 11 points, continuing a run where he has scored 10 or more in 12 consecutive games and is the 41st player in program history to reach the milestone.
“It’s something special and it’s a testament to the guys around me,” Kahlig said. “I’m thankful I’ve been able to make shots and thankful the coaching staff has put me in a position to make plays.”
Kahlig came in needing 11 points and foul trouble slowed him down, scoring only three points by halftime.
“I struggled in the first half and got into some foul trouble,” Kahlig said. “But Jake said he would spot me up for one and I was able to hit it.”
Kahlig has always been a scoring threat, pouring in 239 points in his freshman year after coming out of Fort Recovery as the 2010 Associated Press Division IV Player of the Year.
He hasn’t missed a beat since, but it’s in the other areas of his game that has helped him become one of the GLIAC’s top players.
“He is better on defense, is a force on the boards and has really become a more well-rounded player,” Findlay head coach Charlie Ernst said. “Scoring has come natural to Greg, but it’s in those other things, rebounding, looking for the extra pass, understanding what is expected of him in our different defenses, that I am most proud of.”
The Oilers (17-6, 14-5 GLIAC) came in gunning for their fourth consecutive win and eager to move one step closer to the South Division championship.
Aaron Robinson and Alphonso Baity nailed 3-pointers and Jack Smith made a move in the lane where he got a shot to fall and drew a foul as the Oilers grabbed the momentum early with a 14-2 lead.
It was the Oilers’ defensive effort, though, that rattled the Storm (7-16, 4-15), which has lost three in a row and has only four wins since November.
Findlay forced 15 turnovers, scoring 19 points off the miscues, and held the Storm to 32.1 percent (18 of 56) shooting. The Storm, which rarely got second-chance opportunities, was 1 of 14 from 3-point range and was contested on inside shots.
Riley Thomas, the Storm’s leading scorer (13.5 points per outing), led Lake Erie with 8 points.
UF Senior guard Aaron Robinson, who scored 5 points, grabbed five rebounds and tallied three steals, talked about the key to success on defense.
“We prepared well during the week and knew what to expect,” Robinson said. “They have good shooters and athletic big men, but we played hard and stuck to our game plan.”
The Storm closed the gap to 22-14 with 2:28 to play, but that is where Dylan Kaufman made his presence felt. The freshman drilled a jumper and hit two free throws to fuel a 13-2 run that put Findlay on top 35-16 at the break.
Kaufman played with energy throughout, even diving into the Lake Erie bench to attempt to save a ball from going out of bounds. He scored 11 points in 15 minutes of action.
“I missed my first shot and I was a little upset. I decided to attack the basket and it worked,” Kaufman said. “Coach wants me to be play hard and be an energy guy, and I do what I can to help the team.”
While the Oilers have started to find their stride in February, winning four of their first five, Ernst feells there is still room for improvement for a team looking to return to the NCAA Division II tournament for the 11th time.
“It’s easy to take teams lightly, but all we have to do is look around the conference to see what happens when you do that,” Ernst said. “Lake Erie almost got a win against Hillsdale on the road this week, and that helped get the attention of our players. Our effort in practice carried over to the game.”
Findlay shot 47.6 percent (20 of 42). The Oilers have held their last 15 opponents under 70 points and own a one-game lead over Walsh University with three games to play. They are tied for second in the overall standings.
The Cavaliers (16-6, 12-6) beat Tiffin University 88-70 on Saturday and lost 67-65 to Findlay in their encounter last month in Canton.
A win in Thursday’s 6 p.m. game against Walsh at Croy Gymnasium would assure the Oilers of at least a share of the title.
“We know we have to win from here on out if we want a chance to host the conference tournament,” Kahlig said. “We just have to keep playing hard and continue to build momentum for the postseason.”
lake erie (7-16, 4-15)
Austin 3-9 0-0 7, Sims 2-4 0-2 4, Bosley 1-3 2-2 4, Howard 0-7 1-2 1, Thomas 4-10 0-0 8, Alexander 1-6 0-2 2, Matheson 1-1 0-0 2, Parker 2-3 0-0 4, Adamczyk 1-1 0-0 2, McClain 0-0 0-0 0, Tait 1-4 1-2 3, Dudley 0-6 0-0 0, Walczak 2-2 0-0 4, Baker 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18-56 4-10–41.
findlay (17-6, 14-5)
Heagen 3-6 5-7 11, Kahlig 3-8 4-4 11, Piehl 1-3 2-2 4, Baity 1-4 4-4 7, Robinson 2-4 0-0 5, Samsel 0-2 0-0 0, Brown 0-1 2-2 2, Baker 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 3-4 2-3 9, Baldwin 1-1 0-0 2, Kaufman 4-6 2-2 11, Brencans 0-0 0-0 0, Kohls 1-1 0-0 3, Frilling 1-2 0-0 2. TOTALS: 20-42 21-24–67.
HALFTIME: Findlay, 35-16.
3-Point GOALS: Lake Erie 1-14 (Austin 1-2, Bosley 0-1, Howard 0-1, Alexander 0-1, Tait 0-2, Dudley 0-3, Thomas 0-4); Findlay 6-16 (Kohls 1-1, Smith 1-1, Kaufman 1-2, Baity 1-2, Kahlig 1-3, Robinson 1-3, Heagen 0-1, Piehl 0-1, Samsel 0-2).
rebounds: Lake Erie 32 (Alexander 7); Findlay 34 (Baity & Robinson 5). ASSISTS: Lake Erie 7 (Sims, Bosley & Tait 2); Findlay 11 (Heagen 3). STEALS: Lake Erie 5; Findlay 11 (Robinson 3, Heagen 2). BLOCKS: Lake Erie 0; Findlay 8 (Kahlig, Piehl & Baity 2).
TURNOVERS: Lake Erie 15, Findlay 17. TOTAL FOULS: Lake Erie 19, Findlay 12. FOULED OUT: None.