LIMA — There’s a party going on right here, a celebration to last throughout the years. So sang Kool and the Gang in late 1980.
Lima had its own celebration Tuesday night at the Civic Center when a community celebration was held to honor three very successful basketball teams.
The Allen County Sharks, the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds, and the Lima Senior High School Spartans were all honored for each’s performance at last weekend’s state tournaments.
With emcee Vince Koza doing the honors, the first team to be recognized was the Sharks who brought home the Division III Special Olympics state title.
The Sharks, with a roster that featured players from 17 to 62, finished the season with a 10-1 record and claimed the state title with a 38-36 win over Medina County.
“It is a dream come true, and to get to do it with a group of men who came together in a short period of time is special.” co-coach Jon Wade said. “We were up by 11 points in the title game but only scored two points in the fourth quarter but managed to hang on for the win.”
“It feels good, I believed in my teammates and we connected and believed in each other.” Joe Brown said. “Coach told us we had to get back on defense and that turned our game around.”
“It feels great, it is good to see the smiles and you can’t replicate that feeling,” co-coach Adam Stolly said. “They bonded throughout the season and were a team at the end.”
Next up were the Division III state champion T-Birds who beat seven tournament opponents by an average of 31 points per game on their way to a 28-1 season record.
“It is a feeling you have to experience, it is so good and so high like being on top of the world.” LCC coach Frank Kill said. “The first title (2014) was a shock; this one was expected so to finish the mission was truly a blessing for the class of 2016. We graduate seven seniors but that open the doors for the underclassmen to step in and fill those roles, we hope the underclassmen saw the work that was required to get to that level.”
Division III tournament most valuable player – Tre Cobbs – talked of the last three years.
“These last three years (two state titles and a runner-up finish) have been phenomenal,” Cobbs commented. “By the grace of God I was able to keep believing in myself and my teammates and things turned out successfully. Tonight is nice to be with fans and the community; they supported us all the way and it has been a fun ride.”
Last but not least were the Lima Senior Spartans. Lima Senior finished the season 29-1 and lost the state title in heart breaking fashion to Westerville South by a 57-55 score.
“It’s disappointing, I haven’t thought about much besides the title game,” Senior coach Quincey Simpson said. “These guys have had a great season and they are getting back to their normal selves; they understand they had a tremendous season.”
Mr. Basketball Xavier Simpson talked about the year as a whole.
“Reflecting on the whole year it was good, I’m still disappointed in the way it ended.” Simpson said. “But I’m thankful for the year me and my teammates had.”
Mayor David Berger then closed the evening by again congratulating the three teams — to a standing ovation from the crowd — for the success they had and the pride they brought to themselves and Lima.