LIMA – After breaking a long losing streak against Findlay earlier this season, Lima Senior’s boys basketball team appeared ready to deal the Trojans a crushing loss in the rematch on Friday night at Senior High.
But after leading by 15 points at halftime, the Spartans (14-3, 9-2 TRAC) found themselves in a battle until the final seconds against the Trojans (10-8, 7-4 TRAC) before pulling away for a 72-65 win.
Even Findlay coach Jim Rucki admitted it didn’t look good early.
“In the first half, I don’t think too many people in the gym would have thought we would have had a chance to tie it in the fourth quarter,” Rucki said.
Findlay cut Lima Senior’s 40-25 halftime lead to one point at 44-43 just four minutes into the third quarter.
And then after the Spartans had seemed to regain control of the game when they went up 64-53 with four minutes to play, Findlay reduced the lead to three points, 68-65, and had the ball in the final minute.
“They made a good run. Basketball is just that – a game of runs,” Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson said. “They were efficient in the sets they were running and executed very well down the stretch. Fortunately for us, we got some key rebounds and got a stop or two when we needed it.”
Simpson said he was “definitely not at all happy” with the second half Lima Senior played.
“I thought we took our foot off the gas. Hopefully we can get that fixed in less than 24 hours,” he said, looking ahead to tonight’s match-up with state-ranked Defiance.
“We played great in the first half. The second half, we just didn’t have the same energy and the same effort and that was the reason we allowed those guys to get back into the game,” Simpson said.
Xavier Simpson scored 31 points, was 4 of 5 on 3-pointers and was 11 of 13 overall shooting the ball to lead Lima Senior. Jay Thomas had 17 points for the Spartans. Kyle Nunn led Findlay with 25 points.
Simpson went over the 1,000-point mark in his career during the game and now has 1,008 points. The 6-foot junior guard scored the first 688 of those at Lima Central Catholic, where he played the last two seasons.
Maybe the biggest factor in Lima Senior’s blazing start was forcing seven turnovers in the first quarter and 12 by halftime.
“We expected they were going to force some turnovers against us but we have to find a way to get rid of the unforced turnovers. In the first half, especially, we gave them what we call ‘pick sixes,’ ” Rucki said. “We would have been way better off just throwing it into the upper row of the bleachers and making them set up an offense and us go down and play defense.”
Both teams shot the ball well, with Findlay hitting 65 percent on field goals (24 of 37) and Lima Senior connecting on 59 percent of its shots (23 of 39).