SPENCERVILLE – Zach Goecke was surprised to see the ball coming to him. But once it got there, he couldn’t have done any better if he’d been preparing for this moment for the previous 31 minutes, 58 seconds.
Goecke, a 6-foot sophomore, hit a 3-pointer as time ran out to give Spencerville a 56-53 boys basketball win over Lima Central Catholic on Friday night. It was the second year in a row the Bearcats have knocked off the Thunderbirds.
Ben Bowers scored 18 points to lead Spencerville (14-4). Goecke had 12 points and Dakota Prichard scored 11. For LCC (15-4), Tre Cobbs and Xavier Simpson scored 14 points and Dantez Walton had 11 points.
“I was open but I thought Ben (Bowers) was going to take it, so I just hung out for a little bit, but then he was able to find me and I was able to get the shot off,” Goecke said.
The ball was in the hands of Bowers, the Bearcats’ point guard, because he had rebounded a missed shot by LCC’s Simpson with eight seconds to play and took off up the court.
The Thunderbirds, who led only once in the second half, played for a go-ahead shot after they held the ball from the 1:55 mark of the fourth quarter until Simpson started a drive to the basket with 15 seconds left on the clock.
Spencerville dominated the first half against LCC and took a 31-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Bearcats kept the lead until Cobbs hit two 3-pointers in the first 2 ½ minutes of the fourth quarter and Simpson dropped in two free throws with 4:41 to play to put LCC in front 53-51 with 4:41 left.
Bowers made two free throws a minute later and no one scored again until Goecke’s game-winner, his second shot at the buzzer to finish off a win this season.
“We defended and we rebounded. When you play good teams you have to defend and rebound. We did that,” Spencerville coach Kevin Sensabaugh said.
“We played with good energy. We controlled the tempo, which I thought was key. I didn’t want to get into a run up and down the floor game. We kept fighting. Even when they made runs, we kept fighting, we kept scrapping, and we kept our composure,” he said.
And he liked Bowers’ decision making throughout the game, not just on the final shot.
“Part of the key was Benny controlled the ball. He didn’t turn it over, he got us into our stuff. He got the ball to the people we needed to score,” Sensabaugh said.
Lima Central Catholic did not look like the team that rolled to a 79-43 win over Lima Senior on Tuesday night. It struggled offensively most of the night, shooting 39 percent overall and just 16 percent on 3-pointers (3 of 19).
“Was there a hangover (from beating Lima Senior)? No. We just came out and didn’t have the energy and passion from the get-go,” LCC coach Frank Kill said.
“When you have your leading scorer (Martyce Kimbrough) really go cold, you’re going to struggle. And when we don’t run any offense and we don’t get the looks we’d like, we’re going to struggle,” he said. “But give a lot of credit to Spencerville. We made a valiant comeback. Unfortunately the ball didn’t roll our way, and we left too much time on the clock.”
It was the second time in a week that LCC lost a game in the final seconds. Elida took a 70-69 win over the Thunderbirds last Saturday.
“This is a team thing, it isn’t one player. And we have to fix it together,” Kill said.