LIMA — The ball clanked off the rim from a deep 3-point miss by St. Francis.
And who came down with it?
Only the smallest player on the floor, Lima Senior’s 5-foot-4 freshman Khalil Luster.
Luster rebounded, was fouled and sank two foul shots to help Lima Senior post a 69-64 overtime win Friday night against Toledo St. Francis at Lima Senior.
St. Francis owned the offensive glass most of the night.
But with Lima Senior holding a 66-64 lead with 16 seconds left in overtime, it couldn’t get the board after a 3-point miss by Jackie Harris.
Instead, it was Luster who was first there, leaped and grabbed it.
“I saw it come off and I said to myself, ‘If I don’t get this rebound, we’re going to lose this game,’ ” Luster said. … “I play with a lot of heart.’’
Added Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson, “He (Luster) is a really heady basketball player. He makes the right plays.’’
St. Francis coach Travis Lewis said of Luster, “You can’t turn him over. To be that small and be able to run the team as a freshman, he’s going to be special and fun to watch the next three years.’’
And when Luster canned both foul shots off the double bonus, the Spartans had a 68-64 lead with 15 seconds left.
“I told myself that I had to hit those two free throws,” Luster said.
Jamir Simpson led the Spartans with 22 points and seven rebounds. He had 16 points at the half.
“I had to go to the rack,” Simpson said. “I was warming up before the game and felt good.’’
“He’s (Simpson) a matchup nightmare on the high school level,” coach Simpson said.
Josiah Fulcher had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Jaleel King had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Luster had 11 points and four rebounds.
Lima Senior is 12-2, 7-1 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. Whitmer entered the night with a 7-1 mark in the TRAC.
“It was toughness,” coach Simpson said. “To win games in this conference, you have to demonstrate toughness and I thought we did that. … I thought our fast start helped us because that’s a good basketball team. I knew they would make a run and it would be a different basketball game in the second half and it was.’’
St. Francis is 12-3, 6-3 in the TRAC.
Harris, a 6-7 senior headed to Oakland University, led the Knights with 26 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. He also hit three 3-pointers.
Jakiel Wells had 18 points and nine rebounds.
It was the second matchup this year between the two teams. Lima Senior defeated St. Francis 61-54 in Toledo on Dec. 12.
Lima Senior led 23-12 after the first quarter and 33-22 at the half.
The Spartans led by as many as 16, 28-12, early in the second quarter.
Lewis said the Knights’ defense was the key to his team’s comeback.
“Lima did a great job of coming out and jumping on us, but our kids were resilient to fight back,” Lewis said. “And it was more so on the defensive end, finding ways to create turnovers and win on the defensive glass. For us to be able to outrebound them was one of the keys for us to getting back into the game.’’
St. Francis clamped down at the 3-point line on defense in the second half and picked up its man pressure.
The Knights went on a 10-4 run early in the fourth quarter to take a 51-50 lead after Harris sank back-to-back 3-pointers.
The game was back-and-forth until the end.
Wells tied the game at 58 with a driving 7-footer with 1:07 left.
That send the game into overtime.
King led Lima Senior in overtime with four points. His driving layup gave the Spartans the lead to stay 66-64 with 1:25 left in overtime.
Simpson came out and was taking the ball to the basket, as well as hitting from long range.
Simpson started off the night with a driving layup, then sank a 3-pointer. When he hit two foul shots, the Spartans had a 10-2 lead.
Luster’s 3-pointer pushed the running Spartans out to a 13-4 lead
The lead grew to 21-6 after Simpson slammed home a breakaway dunk.
Simpson racked up 12 points in the opening quarter.
St. Francis won the boards, 47-40, including 23-15 at the offensive end.
St. Francis shot 38 percent from the floor and was 4 of 23 on 3-pointers.
Lima Senior shot 40 percent from the field and was 5 of 13 on threes.