ELIDA – Lima Senior’s Josiah Fulcher revved it up early and never let off the accelerator.
Elida kept pushing the ball inside, but Fulcher and his crew were too much to handle.
Lima Senior notched an 85-69 boys basketball victory over Elida before a big crowd Saturday at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Fulcher, who played in the state tournament for Pickerington Central last year, led the Spartans with 31 points and two 3-pointers.
“It was a good atmosphere,” Fulcher said. “I haven’t played in this kind of atmosphere in a while. It brought back a lot of (tournament) memories.’’
Jadakis Mack had 15 points, six rebounds and three 3-pointers for the Spartans.
Jamir Simpson had 15 points and eight rebounds.
Lima Senior (9-1) has won nine in a row.
Elida, which played without Evan Unruh (quad injury) is 5-4.
Lima Senior was coming off an 85-42 dismantling of Fremont Ross on Friday.
Elida hadn’t played in seven days, since a Dec. 22 win over Van Buren.
“I’m very, very pleased with our effort,” Elida coach Denny Thompson said.
Lima Senior’s high-octane, up-and-down game took its toll on Elida in the first half.
“I thought we executed really well with the plays we had drawn up,” Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson said. “I thought our energy was there. Guys made shots and they shared the ball well. And we got the ball out really well in transition.’’
The Spartans forced 13 Elida turnovers by halftime, which helped them post a 45-30 lead at the half.
“It’s a crosstown rivalry and we just wanted to get the win,” Fulcher said. “We were ready tonight. … The defense did a lot. It got us transition points.’’
Lima Senior started the third quarter on an 11-2 run to go out a 56-32 lead.
Elida was aggressive off its own break and kept powering its way straight to the basket, via passes over the top.
That helped the Bulldogs cut the margin to 14, 77-63, in the final minutes.
“The lead got out there a couple of times and we fought, dug and clawed and got it back inside 20 and finished it off at 16,” Thompson said. “The crowd and the atmosphere was nice. Hopefully, it’ll pay dividends down the stretch.’’
Leading the Elida charge to take the ball inside was Matt Fish, who finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Six of his rebounds came at the offensive end.
Of Fish’s 14 baskets, 13 came on strong moves to the glass.
Dante Wheeler had 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Max Parker had 10 points.
Elida won the boards, 44-31. Both teams had 16 offensive rebounds.
Elida ended up with 20 turnovers, while Lima Senior had five.
Elida hit 2 of 9 on 3-pointers. Lima Senior was 11 of 26 on threes.
Lima Senior had the high pressure and running game set on top speed early, as the Spartans went out to a 21-14 first-quarter lead.
The Spartans had two breakaway slams in the opening quarter.
More importantly, Fulcher was everywhere, hitting 11 in the first quarter with one 3-pointer.
Elida was within 10, 34-24, with 3:08 left before halftime with Fish going inside and Wheeler hitting from long range.
The Spartans then went on an 11-6 run to close the half with a 45-30 lead.
“We made a tremendous run to go up 15 and that was all predicated on our defense,” Simpson said.
Fulcher had 20 at the half for the Spartans.
“The thing that impresses me is he’s (Fulcher) never been in this type of roll before,” Simpson said of Fulcher. “Whether it’s been AAU or his other school. I’m putting him in the role to be the number-one option.’’
Wheeler had 10 at the half with a pair of 3-pointers and Fish had 12.
“They came at us hard tonight,” Fulcher said of Elida’s get-it-inside approach.
Added Thompson, “We didn’t back down. We weren’t on our heels very often.’’