LIMA — Lima Senior’s girls basketball program only had to wait 17 days to celebrate what is normally a rare milestone.
Indiya Benjamin scored 21 points to lead the Spartans to a 68-56 victory over Van Wert, and became the second Spartan of the season to cross the 1,000-point threshold. Stacia Allen reached the same milestone on Jan. 26.
“It feels great to have two players on our team accomplish that,” Benjamin said. “At the beginning of the game I was nervous, but once I got the point I needed I was able to settle down and play my game better.”
Benjamin entered the evening with 995 career points. After a scoreless first quarter in went 0-6 from the field, she hit a 3-pointer early in the second and soon followed it up with a quick jumper from midrange that brought her even with 1,000.
In the second half, Benjamin began to click with the rest of the offense, and finished the game with 21 points and five rebounds. Benjamin shot 7-of-11 from the field in the final three quarters of the game.
For the most part, Lima Senior’s team play reflected Benjamin’s game. The Spartans had a sluggish start to the game, struggling to rebound and capitalize on turnovers. The offensive rebounding of the Cougars was especially detrimental to Lima Senior, as Van Wert’s inside players gave its offense second and third chances that often translated to points. Van Wert had a 32-26 lead at halftime.
The Spartans got a much needed hot start to the third quarter, ripping off a 10-0 run that led to Lima Senior grabbing its first lead since the first quarter. From there, the Cougars never came back with a run of their own, and never reclaimed their dominant presence on the boards. The final blow to Van Wert was a strong shooting performance by the Spartans in the fourth quarter, with Lima Senior outscoring the Cougars 24-13 in the final period.
“The first half, they dominated us on the boards,” Lima Senior coach Vince Halliday said. “We had a couple of good box-outs, we just weren’t going and getting the ball. Their kids were doing a lot better job of that. We did a lot better job of controlling the glass in the second half. It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll never apologize for a win.”
Allen was perhaps the biggest leader of the Spartans’ second-half surge, finishing with 20 points that included five 3-pointers that helped to keep pushing Lima Senior ahead. Allen reached 1,000 career points just two weeks ago, and was one of Benjamin’s biggest supporters on Tuesday night.
“I could tell she was nervous,” Allen said. “I just kept telling her to keep shooting, that they would start to fall. Then finally she got one shot to fall, and then a second shot, and she took off from there. I’m glad I could share this milestone with her.”
Halliday has had Benjamin in a shooting role ever since her freshman year, but says that she is a passer first.
“I ask her to score because I need her to,” Halliday said. “But her mindset is to be a passer. She leads us in assists, she leads us in steals, she’s amazing. When she was a freshman, I gave her the ball and told her to lead us, and she has. And for her to do all of that at her size is unbelievable.”
The girls scoring record at Lima Senior is 1,453. Benjamin currently has 1,016 points.