For the second time ever, Lima Senior and Lima Central Catholic will be playing in the boys state basketball tournament in the same year.
The only other time it happened was in 1992, when the Spartans were Division I state runner-up and the Thunderbirds were a Division IV semifinalist.
It’s a time of great excitement in Lima for high school basketball fans, for the casual fans of high school sports and probably even for the non-fans in the community. It’s just good for the teams, the fans and Lima overall.
Here are 10 of the best things about having two Lima teams in the state tournament:
1. It’s possible these are the best teams Lima Senior and Lima Central Catholic have ever had.
No Lima Senior boys basketball team has ever won a state championship and finished undefeated. This team can, and if it does, it would be hard to argue it wasn’t the best Spartans team ever.
LCC has two state champion trophies and two state runner-up trophies. But if this team adds a state title to a season where its only loss was on a shot just before the buzzer to Lima Senior and only one of its wins was by fewer than 10 points, it could earn the best-ever label.
2. Both teams lived up to expectations.
Lima Central Catholic had players like Dantez Walton and Tre Cobbs, who played big roles in a Division III state championship in 2014 and a state runner-up finish in 2015, coming back for their senior season.
Lima Senior had most of its roster back from a team that was stopped one step short of the state tournament in the Division I regional championship game last year.
So, the expectation was that both teams could get to Columbus this year and they did.
3. Division I college athletes.
Lima Senior’s Xavier Simpson has signed to play basketball at Michigan next season. Ruben Flowers (Pittsburgh) and Jaylin Thomas (Ball State) will play D-I college football in the fall.
LCC’s Walton has signed with Northern Kentucky University to play basketball. And it would appear D-I schools are missing the boat by not showing more interest in Cobbs.
4. Both teams are fun to watch.
In an era of too many low-scoring games, LCC and Lima Senior put points on the scoreboard.
The Spartans average 77 points a game and have scored more than 8o points 12 times. The Thunderbirds score 71 points a game and have scored 80 or more five times. And both teams have players who can play above the rim.
5. If you’re a fan of Ohio professional sports teams, this can help you get through the seasons the Browns and Reds are going to have and the Blue Jackets are having.
6. It’s history repeating itself. In 1992, Lima Senior, LCC and a team from Van Wert County (Van Wert) went to the state tournament. In 2016, Lima Senior, LCC and a team from Van Wert County (Lincolnview) are going to the state tournament.
7. It’s history repeating itself a second time. In 1992, Lima Senior’s Greg Simpson was the favorite to win the Mr. Basketball Award. This year, Lima Senior’s Xavier Simpson is the front-runner to win that award.
8. When everybody gets a piece of the pie, everybody is happy.
9. T-shirt sales are through the roof. Helps the local economy.
10. Memories. Lots of memories.
Winning a state championship is one of the memories of a lifetime. But even a trip to a state tournament that doesn’t end with your team holding the gold trophy can be memorable.
Twenty-four years later, Lima Senior’s double-overtime win over Canton McKinley in the state semifinals in 1992 and its overtime loss to Lakota are still being talked about.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.