FINDLAY — It was almost like Findlay borrowed a page from Urban Meyer’s folder of motivational strategies when it rolled to an 81-63 boys basketball win over Lima Senior on Friday night.
The Trojans’ coaches, like Meyer talking about the Michigan game, emphasized how big it was to play against their rivals in the days leading up to the game.
Head coach Jim Rucki had some former players send text messages about the rivalry. The players listened. And they responded in a big way.
“It just shows how much we value this rivalry. We came out ready to play,” said senior guard Ryan Roth, one of three players to score more than 20 points in a night when Findlay’s shooters connected on 67 percent of their shots.
The pattern of the game was set early when Findlay hit 15 of 21 shots in the first two quarters to build a 37-21 halftime lead. Lima Senior – which missed its first 11 shots – never recovered from the combination of Findlay’s hot shooting and its own inability to consistently put the ball into the basket.
The Trojans’ lead never dropped below 13 points in the second half and reached as much as 22 points late in the third quarter.
Ryan Nunn, who hit his first five shots, including four 3-pointers, led Findlay (8-3, 4-2 Three Rivers Athletic Conference) with 26 points. A.J. Adams had 22 points and Roth scored 21.
Lima Senior (9-2, 5-1 TRAC), which came into the game ranked No. 10 in the state in Division I, got 15 points from Josiah Fulcher, 14 from Jamir Simpson and 13 from Da’San Clair.
“It was very big. Very big,” Findlay coach Jim Rucki said about his team’s win.
“The last couple days we tried to talk to them about the importance of this game for a Findlay High School basketball player. I texted a few former players and a couple guys said some really good things. We came out and raised our level of play,” Rucki said.
“And we shot the ball really well. That always makes you look better,” he said.
It wasn’t all about offense, though. Defensively, Findlay wanted to make Lima Senior prove it could knock down outside shots and avoid giving up drives to the rim.
“We needed them to shoot poorly and we needed to rebound,” Rucki said. “We played zone and took some chances. We were going to try to make them shoot over us and tonight it worked.”
Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson was not available for comment after the game. When The Lima News reached the Spartans locker room area around 15 minutes after the game an assistant coach said he had already left.
Findlay has won four of the last seven games it has played against Lima Senior. The Spartans lead the all-time series 42-30.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.