LIMA – Defense has been the staple for Lima Senior boys basketball this season.
In Friday’s Three Rivers Athletic Conference game with visiting Toledo St. Francis, the Spartans turned up the dial a couple extra notches in the second half, en route to a thrilling 77-74 victory over the Knights.
In the second half, Lima Senior’s man-to-man pressure helped cause 10 St. Francis’ turnovers and the Spartans turned most of those miscues into quick transition baskets.
Rico Stafford led Lima Senior with 25 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Ruben Flowers scored 13, while Brady Allen and Jay Thomas each added 10 for the Spartans (9-13, 5-9 TRAC).
Jonathan Frankhauser led St. Francis (5-16, 3-11) with 19 points, while teammates Lamar Carswell and Dontay Ellison each scored 17.
After a nip-and-tuck first half in which St. Francis claimed a 35-32 lead at the break, Lima Senior came out a little more aggressive in the third quarter. That tenacious pressure set the tone for the second half.
At the end of the third quarter, St. Francis was clinging to a 54-51 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Lima Senior took the ball to the basket more often, forcing St. Francis to foul. The Spartans closed the game out at the free throw line, hitting 6 of 10 from the stripe in the final eight minutes.
“St. Francis made some shots there in the end,” Lima Senior coach Shawn Allen said. “We didn’t welt. …We hung in there. I thought our pressure in the second half, when we ramped it up there a little bit, really caused some havoc.
“These guys (St. Francis) were scrappy. They’re not as bad as their record indicates. Going into the tournament this week, we’ve really grown a lot and I’m proud of our kids on how they hung in there.”
Stafford, who was 12-of-16 from the field, said his team is quite capable of playing this well every game.
“We’ve got guards that like to push the ball and our ‘bigs’ are there to get the rebound. I think we have to get all the pieces of the puzzle together like coach Allen said,” Stafford said.
Lima Senior shot 55 percent from the floor, while St. Francis shot 44 percent from the field.
For the game, St. Francis committed 16 turnovers. Lima Senior turned the ball over 10 times.
“We had six turnovers in the first half, 10 in the second half and four to open the fourth quarter,” St. Francis coach Travis Lewis said. “I think we got up nine at one point and I had our kids press, which I shouldn’t have, especially with Lima Senior’s quickness. That’s on me.”