LIMA — Lima Senior came out in warmups with Kobe Bryant, purple-and-gold “Mamba” shirts.
And, for most of the night, the Spartans elevated their play after wearing the Bryant No. 8 and No. 24 shirts.
Josiah Fulcher scored 23 points to power Lima Senior to a 65-51 boys basketball victory against Toledo St. John’s.
In was a good bounce-back game for Lima Senior after falling to Shawnee 70-55 last Saturday.
“It feels really good,” Fulcher said. “We needed this. We came in and played together and fought hard.’’
After the loss to Shawnee Fulcher said, “We needed to come together, talk to each other, re-bond and play together. We knew coming in this was going to be a tough game.’’
Added Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson, “We needed that. … As a team, collectively, we shared the ball and played together. I thought that was one of our keys to getting this win.’’
A big key for the Spartans was the way the team shared the ball, found the open man and didn’t settle for jumpers at the 3-point line.
Lima Senior is 14-3, 10-0 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
St. John’s is 9-7, 6-4 in the TRAC.
Fulcher also had seven rebounds and two 3-pointers to go with his 23 points.
The Spartans’ Dante Wheeler added nine points and five rebounds.
Jadakis Mack had eight points and seven rebounds.
Da’San Clair had eight points and two 3-pointers.
St. John’s was led by Brady Lichtenberg’s 13 points.
St. John’s freshman guard Michael Greenlee had 10 points. Gary Batch had eight points and six rebounds.
Defensively, the Spartans rolled out their man press and forced 15 turnovers.
On the other side, St. John’s alternated between its usual man and a rare 2-3 zone.
“That’s rare for them,” Simpson said of the zone. “We do anticipate teams playing zone, so lately we’ve been doing a lot of zone offensive things. I thought our zone offense looked pretty good tonight. We were looking for the gaps in the zone (in the lane) and for the high-percentage shots.’’
Lima Senior knocked off St. John’s 66-44 at Toledo on Dec. 17.
This game stayed close until midway through the final quarter.
Lima Senior led 47-38 after three quarters.
The Spartans held a 49-42 lead with 5:27 to go.
That’s when Lima Senior had a 10-4 burst to pull out to a 59-46 lead with 2:40 to go.
During that spurt, Camren Miles had a three-point play and Fulcher scored five, including a three-point play.
St. John’s wouldn’t get within 10 in the final two minutes.
Lima Senior went out quick and led 16-7 after the first quarter.
The Spartans led 35-28 at the half.
Fulcher had nine points in the second quarter, with one 3-pointer and two slams.
That helped Lima Senior pull out to a 28-18 lead.
St. John’s came back behind Lichtenberg, who scored nine points in the second quarter.
Lima Senior played without starter 6-foot-5 Jamir Simpson (17.1 average), who didn’t dress and wasn’t on the bench.
“He’s not with us right now,” coach Simpson said. “I’m not real sure when he’ll be back.’’
Lima Senior won the boards 31-28.
The Spartans shot 43 percent from the field and was 5 of 15 on 3-pointers.
St. John’s shot 40 percent from the field and was 7 of 20 on 3-pointers.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.