FINDLAY — For 31 minutes and 57 seconds, Lima Senior kept trying to pull away from Findlay but the Trojans wouldn’t let them.
But with three seconds left on the clock, Dante Wheeler delivered the game-winning bucket to give the Spartans a 60-58 boys basketball win over their rival 35 miles up I-75 on Friday night.
Josiah Fulcher scored 16 points to lead Lima Senior and probably most people in the gym expected the Spartans’ leading scorer on the season to get the final shot of the game with the score tied 58-58 with less than a minute to play.
Findlay’s Max Roth tied the game at 58-58 with a 3-pointer with 50 seconds to play and Lima Senior had possession of the ball the rest of the game except for the final 2.7 seconds.
The Spartans called a timeout with 36 seconds to play, then called another with 13 seconds to play before Wheeler’s game winner.
Wheeler scored 11 points and Jadakis Mack had 10 points. Khalil Luster (8 points) and Camren Miles (7 points, 9 rebounds) were big contributors off the bench.
Roth scored 17 points and Brock Makrancy had 16 points for Findlay. The Trojans’ leading scorer on the season, A.J. Adams, picked up two fouls in the first 1:21 of the game and finished the game with eight points, less than half of his 18 points a game average.
The back-and-forth pattern of the game began in the first half. Lima Senior went up by eight points early in the second quarter but Findlay ran off eight unanswered points to tie the game at 22-22. Lima Senior responded with an 8-0 run of its own and eventually ended the first half with a 35-28 lead.
The Spartans got the lead out to 11 points, 41-30, early in the second half. But Findlay tied the game at 48-48 in the final minute of the third quarter before Miles’ offensive rebound for a basket gave Lima Senior a 50-48 lead after three quarters.
A 3-pointer by Luster and a traditional 3-point play on an offensive rebound plus a free throw by Miles gave Lima Senior a six-point lead with five minutes to play, but Findlay came back one more time and tied it on Roth’s 3-pointer.
After Wheeler’s go-ahead two-pointer, Findlay stopped the clock with 2.7 seconds to play and got off a long off-target shot by Isaiah Moore as time ran out.
Lima Senior finished the regular season 19-3 and won the Three Rivers Athletic Conference championship with a 14-0 record. Findlay ended the regular season 13-9 and was 8-6 in the TRAC.
Lima Senior’s two wins over Findlay this season were by a total of five points. Lima Senior won 48-45 at home over the Trojans on Jan. 20.
The Spartans will begin sectional tournament play next Saturday against Toledo Waite (2-18) at Fostoria.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.