LIMA — Two lessons came out of Toledo Whitmer’s 70-64 boys basketball win over Lima Senior on Friday night.
Whitmer learned it could win without its 6-foot, 7-inch big man, Wisconsin recruit Nigel Hayes, who sat out the game with a sprained ankle.
And Lima Senior was reminded it takes 32 minutes of solid effort to beat a team at the talent level Whitmer possesses.
The Spartans (4-4, 2-2 Three Rivers Athletic Conference) fell behind by as many as 16 points before cutting the Panthers’ lead to three points twice in the fourth quarter.
“We were right there. We were a turnover or a missed shot away,” Lima Senior coach Shawn Allen said about his team’s comeback. “I’m not disappointed in our kids’ effort. We have a lot of potential. We have to learn to play for 32 minutes.”
Devon Allen led Lima Senior with 18 points and Isiah Simpson and Ruben Flowers each scored 14 points.
For Whitmer (8-1, 4-1 TRAC), Ricardo Smith (24 points) and Jon Ashe (21 points) led the way. Me’Gail Frisch got off the bench for 13 points.
“We got what we had hoped for,” Whitmer coach Bruce Smith said. “We knew we were going to be short handed. Not only was Hayes out of the lineup but Chris Boykin, who is a 6-4 big guy, didn’t play either.
“We had guys who played their tails off tonight,” he said.
Hayes injured his ankle in practice on Monday when he landed on a teammate’s foot.
“His future is so great I’m not going to jeopardize it for this,” Smith said. “One of our freshmen, when he went up for a three, put his foot underneath him and he landed on the freshman’s foot. It shouldn’t happen but it did so we’re dealing with it.”
Whitmer led for all but the first two minutes of the game, though Lima Senior never let the Panthers get too far away until the second half.
The Spartans were down only 33-31 at halftime, but Whitmer extended its lead to 10 points, 51-41, after three quarters.
“For stretches we played really well. But when we came out in the third quarter we looked like we were disinterested,” Allen said.
That was bad timing on the Spartans’ part because Whitmer came out of the locker room with a little extra intensity and took the ball to the basket several times to start the quarter.
“That’s one of the two things we talked about at halftime,” Smith said. “We thought we had a lot of chances in the first half where we didn’t go in very strong or with a whole lot of authority.”
Whitmer appeared ready to put it into cruise control with it went up 65-49 with 3 ½ minutes to play.
But the Spartans turned up the defensive pressure and cut a 16-point lead to a three-point lead at 65-62 with 2:06 left in the game. But that was as close as they got.
“They went from like the five-minute mark to the two-minute mark where they scored every time they touched it. Good shots, bad shots, it didn’t matter,” Smith said. “And we got sloppy with the ball. They made us earn it. We earned it.”
Allen said, “Our kids have to understand that you’ve got to take the energy we finished the game with and transfer it to other parts of the game.
“You can say it’s youth, inexperience, immaturity…That’s the difference between varsity basketball and JV basketball, you can’t have lapses and get away with it at the varsity level.”
Whitmer shot 54 percent in the game (24 of 44) and hit 63 percent of its shots in the second half. Lima Senior shot 40 percent (24 of 59). The Spartans had 27-23 rebounding edge. Whitmer had 19 turnovers and Lima Senior had 18.