ELIDA — When a basketball team plays a special defense, it is gambling the other team can’t make it pay for the extra attention being directed at its big scorers.
Elida gambled that a triangle-and-two defense might work against Lima Senior on Tuesday night. But it didn’t figure Imara Haynes into the equation and paid for it when she played probably the best game of her career to lead the Spartans to a 64-55 girls basketball win at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Haynes, a 6-foot senior post player, scored 17 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and blocked five shots.
She did her best work as an offensive rebounder, especially in the first half when she turned six missed shots into Lima Senior hoops in the game’s first 10 minutes.
“That’s the best game she has played in her career,” Lima Senior coach Vince Halliday said.
“In the first half, we didn’t shoot the ball real well percentage-wise but she cleaned up a lot of the junk. She was huge for us tonight. She was the biggest player on the floor and she played like it,” he said.
Rion Thompson also scored 17 points after being held scoreless for the first 14 minutes. Essence Cowan, the other target of the triangle-and-two along with Thompson, scored nine points. Bailee Kuhn’s 15 points led Elida and Abby Waddle scored 14.
“We executed everything we wanted defensively but then 30 (Haynes) showed up. Rebounding killed us. Put-backs killed us,” Elida co-coach Elise Jenkins said. “She is just a big strong girl and that is something we sometimes lack.”
Lima Senior (8-5) led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter before Elida (4-9) fought back to within three points, 46-43, with six minutes to play. But that was as close as it got.
“We found a way. We’ll take it. We will take it,” Halliday said.