Lima Central Catholic and its first-round boys basketball regional tournament opponent, Worthington Christian, both are teams looking for more.
LCC (21-4) has been to the Bowling Green Division III regional three years in a row but its season has ended in the regional semifinals last season and in the regional championship game in 2012. Both losses were to Ottawa-Glandorf.
Worthington Christian (18-7) has also won three consecutive district titles and has not advanced beyond its regional tournament.
LCC will take on Worthington Christian at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday and Ottawa-Glandorf will play Huron at 8 p.m. in the regional semifinals at Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center.
Since the day preseason practice began, LCC has combined the play them one at a time philosophy with making no attempt to hide the fact its goal is to end its season at the state tournament in Columbus.
After a 56-48 win over Liberty-Benton in the district championship game at Ohio Northern University last Saturday night, LCC coach Frank Kill talked about the Thunderbirds’ big goals.
“This senior class is really hungry to get to Columbus. They’ve been to Bowling Green. It’s a relief to get back to where we got beat last year but we’re not satisfied with just a regional appearance. We want Columbus. We said from the beginning, ‘Columbus or bust,’ and tonight was one step closer to our goal,” Kill said.
Senior guard Martyce Kimbrough said, “We knew if we want to get where we want to go at the end of the season, we had to get past Liberty-Benton. We did that and hopefully we can keep moving.”
Kill said, “That’s been our biggest thing all year —remember what it was like last year when we got beat by Ottawa-Glandorf. We have a sign in our locker room that says, ‘Every champion was once a contender.’ We’re tired of being that contender. We want to be a champion. We’ve remembered what we set out to do since the beginning of the year and it’s been one game at a time.”
With the expectations set so high for LCC this season, it’s easy to overlook the fact that it is still a young team. Kimbrough, a 6-foot senior guard who leads the team in scoring at 19 points a game, and backup post player Cory Stewart are the only seniors who play significant minutes.
LCC starts three sophomores – point guard Xavier Simpson, guard Tre Cobbs and post player Dantez Walton – along with junior post player Jake Williams and Kimbrough. And of the first four players off the bench include two sophomores, a junior and Stewart.
“We’ve matured. Now we have grown young men as sophomores and the seniors have stepped up and led this team. When you have the players and talent we do, you really have to buy into the team model,” Kill said.
Simpson, who averages 18.7 points and six assists a game, said “We’ve improved a lot. During the playoffs we knew it was one game and done so we decided we were going to come together as a team, stick together as a team. It’s not a one-man or two-man or three-man team.”
Worthington Christian got to the regional tournament by beating Grandview 49-40 in its district championship game after losing two regular-season matchups against them. Sam Condon, a 5-foot, 10-inch senior guard leads Worthington Christian in scoring at 13.9 points a game and John Routzahn, a 6-foot, 3-inch junior averages 13.7 points a game.