If you heard it once, you probably heard it 20 times after Lima Senior’s 54-52 boys basketball win over Lima Central Catholic on Tuesday night.
The fans got their money’s worth. You heard that over and over. And they certainly did.
Most games of the year, games of the decade, games of the millennium, or whatever, can’t live up to the hype.
But this one did. Or, at least, it came pretty close.
From a high energy start by Lima Senior, to LCC going out to an eight-point lead early in the second half, to Xavier Simpson being buried under a pile of his Lima Senior teammates celebrating his game-winning shot as time ran out, it delivered what the fans came out to see.
It had plenty of hype. Both teams came into the game undefeated. LCC (15-0) was ranked No. 1 in Division III in The Associated Press boys basketball poll. Lima Senior (12-0) was No. 2 in Division I. The game was televised live locally.
All that added to the intensity of one of the best rivalries in the state of Ohio.
Even the participants took time to notice.
“I wish every LCC-Lima Senior game was like this. I wish all 22 games on our schedule were like this,” Lima Central Catholic coach Frank Kill said. “But I don’t know if my heart could take that.”
Even with Lima Senior’s second-leading scorer, Marquevious Wilson suspended, and key LCC players like Dantez Walton, Tre Cobbs and Josh Dixon playing through foul trouble, the game didn’t fall short of expectations.
It also produced the first sellout in the history of LCC’s Monsignor E.C. Herr Gymnasium since it opened more than a decade ago. Finding an unoccupied chair-back seat in the LCC season ticket section, usually an easy task, was very difficult to do on Tuesday night.
The game was a tough ticket. And it was also a very lucrative 50-50 ticket for the winner, who took home $2,577, also an LCC record.
Lima Central Catholic athletic director Ron Williams said he didn’t remember a 50-50 prize ever going over $1,000.
The big prize, of course, went to Lima Senior. But both teams could take something good away from the game.
Both have big expectations. Both are think the possibility of a trip to the state tournament is out there. And games like this can prepare teams for the road to Columbus.
It helps when we’re trying to get to Columbus,” Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson said about the benefits of a game like Tuesday night’s.
“I told them at the end of the third quarter this was an adversity game. We’re going to see what kind of ball club we are, we’re going to see what kind of identity we have,” he said.
LCC’s Kill said, “That’s probably going to be the toughest team we play on our schedule this season.
“I’m disappointed that we lost because I hate losing. But the fact is we played tough for 32 minutes. When you get beat by a team like Lima Senior you want to take some of the good and I think the good outweighed the bad tonight.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.