LIMA — Someone was going to have a bad weekend with both Lima Senior and visiting Van Wert coming off of Friday night losses.
The Spartans made sure it wasn’t them, riding a strong second-half performance to a 69-62 non-league win Saturday night.
Van Wert was missing starting point guard Joey Hurless, who sprained an ankle late in practice Thursday night.
The Cougars came out in a triangle-and-two, concentrating on Devon Allen and Isiah Simpson. The defense was effective in the first half as the Lima Senior duo was held to five combined points.
Van Wert found some success in getting the ball inside against the Spartans, and behind 10 first-half points from Kyle Keber took a 24-21 lead to halftime.
The Spartans came out with renewed energy in the third period and found success getting the ball inside to 6-foot-3 freshman Reuben Flowers, who hit 3-of-3 for seven points in the period. Fellow freshman 6-4 Rico Stafford also was perfect from the floor as he went 3-for-3 for another six points.
In all, Lima Senior hit 10-of-14 field goals in the quarter to outscore the Cougars 25-15 in the quarter and take a 46-39 lead going to the final period of play.
“Once we started running they had to get out of the triangle-and-two,” Lima Senior coach Shawn Allen said. “We had more energy in the second half and were able to beat a good basketball team.”
The Spartans have had problems holding late leads and things didn’t look good when Van Wert opened the final quarter with back-to-back treys from A.J. Smith and Connor Holliday.
The two teams would be tied at 50, 52, and 55 before the Spartans grabbed control of the game with a 10-0 run to grab a 65-55 lead with a minute and a half to play.
Allen would hit four straight free throws for the Spartans to hold off any thoughts of a late Van Wert comeback.
“Their athleticism hurt us as the game went along but they got penetration and good shot opportunities as the game progressed,” Van Wert coach Dave Froehlich said. “We were trying to give them different looks and keep them out of a flow; we hung in for as long as we could.”
Van Wert got a game-high 22 point effort from A.J. Smith while Keber finished with 18 and Holliday chipped in with 12 for the Cougars.
Lima Senior put five different players in double figures and was led by Flowers with 16 points. Stafford ended with 14 while Allen, Simpson and Damariante Dillingham all had 10 points for the Spartans.
“Five guys in double figures is super, Isiah and Devon found the open guys, and we didn’t give the lead away,” coach Allen said. “Our bigs (Flowers and Stafford) had good nights and they did a good job of finishing tonight.”
The loss drops Van Wert to 9-8 on the year while Lima Senior improves its record to 7-10.