ST. MARYS — It’s just a matter of time for Lima Senior junior Indiya Benjamin.
The 5-foot-6 point guard for the Spartans needed 29 points to join the elite 1,000-point club coming into Saturday’s non-conference game at St. Marys.
Against St. Marys, Benjamin poured in 24 points before being lifted midway through the fourth quarter.
Benjamin’s performance was more than enough to help lift her team to a convincing 66-45 win over the Roughriders in girls basketball at St. Marys. She also made five steals at the defensive end.
The Lima Senior coaching staff felt taking Benjamin out of the game on Saturday was the proper thing to do.
“We kind of talked about it on the bench. …We’re at home Tuesday night (against Van Wert). It’s a great milestone and we wanted to honor her the right way,” Lima Senior coach Vince Halliday said. “I think we were up 22 points at the time (when she came out of the game). So we wanted to get some of those JV kids in there and other players who don’t play as much, and give them an opportunity to play because they work just as hard as everybody else. So we took care of those things and her honor is on Tuesday night.”
Benjamin received plenty of help Saturday as three teammates stepped up to score double figures. Freshmen Essence Cowan and Caterrion Thompson scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Cowan was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line and also pulled down seven rebounds. Thompson made three steals and had four rebounds. Senior Stacia Allen added 10 points and two steals for the Spartans (12-8).
Halliday praised the efforts of his two freshmen, especially Cowan’s.
“The last few games, she has been shooting it well. Halfway through the season she was in the starting lineup for awhile. Then we went with a little more of a defensive lineup. Essence has seemed to relax because of that, and now she’s like my ‘offense’ off the bench. Her stroke is looking really good right now. And moving forward, that’s exactly what we need from her,” he said.
Kelsey Rohrbach led St. Marys (3-17) with 14 points and nine rebounds. Erika Angstmann scored 12 points and grabbed seven boards.
Lima Senior jumped out quickly on St. Marys, pushing out to a 23-7 lead by the end of the first quarter. Benjamin scored eight points, including two 3-pointers. The Roughriders struggled at the offensive end, making just 2-of-12 of their field goal attempts.
Lima Senior’s tenacious man-to-man defense disrupted St. Marys as the Roughriders committed six turnovers in the first quarter. St. Marys ended the game with 18 miscues.
The Roughriders chipped away at the deficit in the second period. The Spartans made just 2-of-12 from the floor in the second stanza. By the halftime break, the lead was 12 for the Spartans, 35-23.
In the third quarter, Lima Senior regained control of the game. The Spartans got several transition baskets, mostly off turnovers, and extended its lead to 49-34 by the third stop. In the final frame, Benjamin hit two 3-pointers to lead the way.
“We just guarded them,” Halliday said. “There was no trapping, no helping. It was just straight man-to-man all night. It was just the basics, today.”
For the game, Lima Senior shot 39 percent from the floor, while St. Marys connected on just 26 percent of its field goal attempts.
From the free throw line, the Spartans made 15-of-19 for 79 percent. The Roughriders went 18-of-24 for 75 percent.
Lima Senior held a 39-34 edge on the boards.
St. Marys coach Kelly Fulmer pointed to the slow start for her team as the key to the game.
“I don’t know what it is. We’ve got to come out on a better foot. We need to get a little more intense and get ready for the start of the game,” she said.