LIMA — Lima Senior smacked Whitmer over the head with its smothering press just seconds after the national anthem.
Whitmer battled back, but it never fully recovered.
Lima Senior used its press to post a 57-38 girls basketball victory Monday night.
The Spartans forced nine first-quarter turnovers from Whitmer. Whitmer had 19 turnovers for the game.
That helped Lima Senior pull out to a 21-3 first quarter lead.
“When the defense comes to us, our offense comes to us,” Lima Senior guard Destiny McDonald said. “We don’t always start from the jump. We always start off slow, but this was a team that we knew we had to start off from the jump against.’’
Lima Senior is 7-3, 4-1 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. Whitmer is 3-3, 1-3 in the TRAC.
It was very the Spartans’ fourth win in a row.
“In the last couple of games we’ve had slow starts, but tonight we came out and established our tempo right away,” Lima Senior coach Vince Halliday said. “We got the turnovers for easy layups. We were really good defensively.’’
Nakiya Sigman had 19 points with six assists for the Spartans. She also hit three 3-pointers.
McDonald had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Spartans.
Cheyanne Bean had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Talor Washington had nine points and six rebounds.
Lima Senior played without Lexi Williams (concussion on Saturday), who is one of the Spartans’ key players off the bench.
Whitmer had plenty of size on the floor, including 6-foot-1 guard Abby Hickey and 5-11 guard Rhegyn Blood.
Hickey had 12 points, nine rebounds and two 3-pointers.
Blood had 11 points with three 3-pointers.
“We knew that coming in that they were a little different, in that their big girls were guards,” Halliday said. “And their other pieces play out in space and are guard-oriented. “Cheyanne (Bean) and A.J. (Bullock) had to defend 20-feet away from the basket and I thought they did a really good job with it.’’
The key for the Spartans was to flood the floor with the press and not allow the Panthers to run their offense with the tall lineup.
“We had to be aggressive,” McDonald said. “And we had to use our quickness.’’
It worked in the first quarter.
Lima Senior’s 2-2-1 press took hold early and forced Whitmer into a cluster of early turnovers.
Lima Senior ran out to a 9-1 lead after a quick 3-pointer and fast-break layup by Sigman.
The Spartans continued to gobble turnovers and fly for layups at the other end.
Lima Senior led 21-3 after the first quarter.
Whitmer regrouped and point guard Mariah Hopings (six points) Blood and Hickey were able to run the offense in the second quarter.
Whitmer started the second quarter on an 8-0 run to quickly get within 21-11.
Whitmer hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter, including two by Blood.
The Spartans led 35-27 at halftime.
The Spartans led 43-36 with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
At that point, Lima Senior ran off a 12-0 run, mostly off fast-break points or layups.
McDonald had a fast-break layup and a driving layup during that spurt. Sigman had a 3-pointer and two foul shots.
“We could see that they were getting tired and that’s when you have to attack the hole the most,” McDonald said.
And Washington scored on a fast-break layup.
That kicked the Spartans’ lead to 55-36 with 2:18 left.
Lima Senior won the boards, 39-34, including 17-13 at the offensive end.
“I was very pleased with how we closed the game,” Halliday said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.