Lima Senior almost came up with a holiday miracle.
The Spartans nearly overcame an 18-point fourth quarter deficit against Shelby but the Lima Senior comeback fell and the Whippets held on for the 73-69 in the Coach Q Holiday Classic Sunday.
Lima Senior drops to 4-1 on the year and Shelby improves to 4-0 on the year.
“It was good to see our kids have a lot of fight but we put ourselves in a situation we should have never been in from the word go,” Spartan head coach Quincy Simpson said.
Down 59-41 going into the final minutes it seemed the Whippets who had opened up leads as much as 21 in the third quarter had the game well in hand.
However, the Spartans who had struggled shooting and were plagued with turnovers throughout the first three quarters finally began to put it together and slowly began to chip away at the Shelby lead. Spearheaded by its smothering defense, the Spartans got to within one 70-69 with 37.4 seconds left in the game after Travis Bullock had an offensive rebound stick back for two points.
After T.J. Pugh made one of two from the free throw line, the Spartans had an opportunity to knot the score but missed on a layup. A second Spartan opportunity came with 20 seconds left tie the game after the Whippets made one of two free throws but the Spartans’ 3-point attempt by Camren Miles missed the mark and Shelby snared the rebound to secure the win.
“We didn’t execute late game situations and that is on me as a coach,” Simpson said. “We have to do more late game situations in practice and I thought there was two opportunities where we rushed and made very, very quick decisions but it is something for us to look at and get better at and grow from it.”
Anthony Mosely, who had 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, was instrumental in the Spartan comeback and Jareon Mayo add all 14 of his points in the final 16 minutes. Bullock finished with 10 points.
Shelby’s Pugh, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference player of the year last season, finished with 24 points and nine rebounds. Marshall Shepherd scored 15 points and Cody Lanz added 13.
The Spartans made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes and shot poorly in the first half to dig themselves in the deep hole. Additionally Shelby handled the Spartans’ pressure defense pretty well for three of those quarters.
The Spartans shooting woes began in the first quarter but some solid rebounding kept Lima Senior close and Shelby owned a 16-14 lead after the first eight minutes.
However in the second quarter the turnovers and Pugh began to catch up to Lima Senior as the Whippets went on a 11-0 run to open the second stanza to gain a 27-14 lead. In that run, Pugh had six of those points. Lima Seniors’ first points of the quarter did not come until Khalil Luster scored a bucket with 3:42 left in the first half.
Lima Senior was 9 of 28 in the first quarter with only one 3-pointer. Shelby had five 3-pointers and three in the second quarter
In addition to the shooting woes, the Spartans had an uncharacteristic 12 turnovers in the first two periods.
At halftime, Shelby had a 37-20 lead.
The Whippets outscored the Spartans 11-5 run in the opening minutes of the third quarter to break out to a 48-27 lead with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter.
“I think we did some good things from our pressure in the second half,” Simpson said. “We have to rebound better and I thought we didn’t get enough 50-50 balls. We are still going to play fast. We are still going to pressure the ball. Shelby is a really good team and we tried to emphasize that to our team and now we have to move on.”
The Spartans return to action against Toledo Central Catholic Tuesday at home.