Editor’s Note — Due to the late start time, the Lima Senior win did not make the daily Sunday edition. Here is the story with photos.
TOLEDO – When Lima Senior’s players began to cut down the net after their 57-54 win over Toledo St. John’s in a Division I boys basketball district championship game Saturday night at the University of Toledo, the first scissors they tried wasn’t sharp enough and a replacement scissors had to be brought in.
That seemed about right after a game in which not much came easy for the Spartans against a team they were playing for the third time this season.
Lima Senior led by as many as 11 points, 43-32, with 2 ½ minutes left in the third quarter and was still up by nine points, 51-42, with 3 ½ minutes remaining in the game.
But before it was over, St. John’s had pulled to within one point, at 55-54, in the final minute of the game and had two unsuccessful 3-point attempts which could have tied the game in the last 32 seconds.
Josiah Fulcher scored 21 points and Jamir Simpson had 17 points to lead the Spartans (22-3). Sam Swift scored 17 points and C.J. Hornbeak had 15 points for St. John’s (14-11).
Lima Senior advanced to a Division I regional semifinal match-up with Toledo Start (21-4) on Wednesday night at the University of Toledo. Start beat Sylvania Northview 57-53 in overtime to win the other Division I district championship decided at Savage Arena on Saturday night.
Lima Senior had beaten St. John’s by 22 points and 14 points in their two Three Rivers Athletic Conference games this season, but this time was much closer.
“They didn’t do anything different, they just looked a little more confident,” Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson said. “They know us. It’s bigger than just playing us three times this year. They’re very familiar with us and the style we want to play and where the holes can sometimes be defensively.
“You have to tip your hat to them because they were ready to go and they made some big shots toward the end of the game,” he said. “St. John’s gave us everything they had. We’re just lucky to come out of here with a win.”
This is the second year in a row Lima Senior has advanced to the regional and the fourth time in the last six seasons it has gotten at least that far in the tournament. Last year, the Spartans’ season ended one game short of the state tournament with a loss to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the regional championship game.
“It means a lot to get back to the regional,” Fulcher said. “We deserved it. We pushed each other in practice and we played through adversity. It’s always tough to play a team three times. They know everything about us, we know everything about them. It’s always going to be a dog fight playing a team for the third time.”
Simpson was relentless at taking the ball to the basket and rebounding on the offensive end, especially early in the game.
“There were a lot of plays for me and I was able to get the job done,” the 6-foot, 5-inch senior said.
Fulcher said, “We tried to get Jamir going early. If we get him going that will get our outside shots going.”
Lakewood St. Edward and Lorain are the other two semifinalists in the Toledo/Akron Division I regional.