TOLEDO – Coaches talk about it a lot. You play the way you practice, they say.
Lima Senior turned those words into reality when it came from behind for a 51-48 win over Toledo Start in a Division I boys basketball regional semifinal on Wednesday night at the University of Toledo’s Savage Arena.
The Spartans (22-4) finished strong in the fourth quarter and they had to after going into that quarter trailing Start 31-28.
“We have drills where we always finish the drills harder than we started. If we don’t, we do the drill over. It’s the same in the game. It transitions to the game. We want to finish the game harder than what we started and we demonstrated that in the fourth quarter,” Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson said.
Josiah Fulcher scored 17 points and Jamir Simpson had 10 points – all of them in the fourth quarter – to lead Lima Senior.
The Spartans will play Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at 6 p.m. Saturday in the regional championship game in Akron and the winner of that game will advance to the state tournament. St. Vincent-St. Mary beat Olmsted Falls 47-37 on Wednesday night in the other regional semifinal.
Start (22-4) led from the last minute of the first quarter until there were only six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Lima Senior jumped out to an 11-5 lead to start the game but then its shooting went cold. The Spartans were 5 of 20 on field goals in the first half and 1 of 12 in the second quarter.
Start led 16-14 at halftime and Lima Senior knew it would be a problem if the game continued at that pace.
“Having 14 points at halftime, we knew if it was in the 30s we weren’t going to come out on top,” Quincey Simpson said. “So we wanted to make a run of some sort.”
That run didn’t materialize until the fourth quarter, though. Start led the entire third quarter and got its lead out to four points twice during that quarter.
But then Lima Senior finished the game the same way it finishes drills, playing hard at the end. The difference, though, was that there were no do-overs if the Spartans didn’t get the desired level of play.
Jermaine Daniel started the fourth-quarter run with a 3-pointer a half-minute into the quarter to tie the game at 31-31.
After Start went back ahead at 33-31, Jamir Simpson hit two free throws to bring Lima Senior back to even.
Simpson hit the first of two free throws with six minutes left in the game to put Lima Senior up 34-33
and when he missed the second, Jaleel King batted it to Khalil Luster.
The freshman point guard then delivered maybe the biggest shot of Lima Senior’s fourth-quarter run when he hit a 3-pointer to give Lima Senior a 37-33 lead.
“The kid comes in as a freshman and makes probably the biggest shot of the game confidently,” Quincey Simpson said about Luster. He’s going to be a big-time player and big-time players make those kind of plays. That’s who he is.”
Luster said, “I was thinking if I hit this it’s going to change the momentum of the game. I shot it and it went in and I was like, ‘Yeah.’ It changed the momentum of the game. It was a momentum changer.”
Three-pointers were a big part of Lima Senior’s offense in the fourth quarter with Fulcher, Simpson, Daniel and Luster all connecting from long range after the Spartans were 1 of 10 from distance in the first three quarters.
“The shots started falling. I thought we wore them down a little. They were not closing out as hard and effectively as they were early in the game,” Quincey Simpson said. “It gave us a little more open looks and we took those opportunities.
“Jamir hit a three and hit some huge free throws. Josiah came through really big in the fourth quarter. Jaleel King played really well the entire game, Amihr Curtis played tremendous defense.
“If you want to advance in these types of moments you have to kind of lean on your upperclassmen. Jamir and Josiah have experience and Jaleel King and Amihr Curtis are seniors who have been around and know what to expect,” he said.
Adrian Michael led Start with 16 points. Dashad Floyd had 11 points and Alex Perry scored 10.
NOTES: Tickets for the Lima Senior regional final game will go on sale for season ticket holders, players/parents, staff and students on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lima Senior High School. For the general public, the tickets go on sale Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. amd from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Presale tickets are $7 for all. It will be $37, game ticket included, for charter spirit bus; must be 18 years or older. There will be a student spirit bus for Lima Sr. students. Spirit buses will leave Lima Sr. at 2:30 p.m.