ELIDA – Elida knew it was coming.
But it didn’t matter.
Lima Senior came out fast and furious against Elida in Friday’s championship game of the Vicki Mauk Holiday Invitational and never let up, en route to an 84-62 victory over the Bulldogs in girls basketball action at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Lima Senior (8-2) jumped out to a 22-12 lead by the end of the first quarter and kept the gas pedal to the floor.
The Spartans extended their lead to 45-26 by halftime, which proved to be too much for Elida to overcome.
Lima Senior’s largest lead was 30 points, late in the third quarter.
Elida did cut the deficit to 15 points, 66-51, at the 6:12 mark of the fourth quarter. But the Spartans responded, pushing their lead back out to 80-56 with less than three minutes left to play.
Rion Thompson led the Spartans with 25 points, including two 3-pointers. Indiya Benjamin poured in 19 points and dished out five assists. Freshman Kierre James came off the bench and scored 13 points and made four steals. Essence Cowan scored 11 points. Imara Haynes, a 6-foot post player, scored 10 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and had two blocks for Lima Senior.
Abby Waddle led Elida (5-5) with 20 points, including two treys. Torie McAdams added 11 points, eight rebounds and two steals in the losing effort for Elida.
Lima Senior has made it a habit this season to give up big leads and then fight to hang on in the end. In Thursday’s 69-67 win over Sylvania Southview, the Spartans had to stave off a fourth-quarter run to notch the victory.
In Friday’s championship game, the Spartans responded in the second half and quickly put the game out of reach.
“Honestly, I got nervous when Indiya picked up two fouls in the first minute-and-a-half of the second half,” Lima Senior coach Vince Halliday said. “I looked at my staff and said, ‘It’s a 26-point lead with 6:30 (left in the third quarter). What’s going to happen here?’
“But, we actually increased the lead for a portion of that quarter and we still won the quarter. So, that was impressive for us. Then they (Elida) made a little run in the fourth (quarter) and cut it to 15 and I called the timeout and politely addressed the young ladies. The nice thing is that we responded and extended the lead.”
Lima Senior’s defensive pressure helped cause 25 Elida turnovers. The Spartans had their moments as well, ending the contest with 20 turnovers.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that they’re very athletic and quick,” Elida co-coach Chrissy Billiter said about Lima Senior. “But, when we get down 10 and they’re pressing, and we get down 20 and they’re pressing; then we’ve got to stop that. Our girls need to step up mentally. Last night (win over W-G) was good mentally. Tonight was a little difficult, because it was such a fast-paced game.
“But, the girls played good and they didn’t give up. It was a good learning experience for us, because we have them again in a couple of weeks.”
The Spartans shot 48 percent from the field. The Bulldogs countered with 47-percent shooting. Lima Senior, however, got off 21 more shot attempts, mostly off transition.
Lima Senior won the battle on the boards, 37-29.
“It’s just one of those things where we need to step up, because we had so many girls get into foul trouble early,” Elida co-coach Elise Jenkins said. “We have to stop fouling, because we’re not that deep off the bench. But in the second half, we did play better and they didn’t give up.”
In the consolation game, Southview pulled away after a nip-and-tuck first quarter for the victory over W-G in the consolation game.
Southview extended its 18-15 first-quarter lead out to 39-23 by the break.
The Cougars led 52-32 by the third stop.
The Tigers did outscore the Cougars 24-14 in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough.
Freshman Emily Patton led W-G with 22 points, including three 3-pointers. Teammate Alicia Kessler scored 15 points.
Sarah Klepzig led Southview with 21 points. Taryn Stanley scored 14 points and Emily Westphal added 10 for the Cougars.
“We battled back there towards the end of the game,” W-G coach Ted Patton said. “They had a couple key offensive boards. We had an opportunity to get back into it there, but we didn’t rebound very well at the end.”
For the game, W-G shot 40 percent from the floor, while Southview shot 43 percent.