The Lima Cup is on the line when Lima Senior and Lima Central Catholic square off in boys basketball and this year expect another exciting contest at Lima Senior on Saturday.
Lima Senior is riding a five-game winning streak in the series but three of those five contest have been decided by 10 points or less. Overall, the two teams have met 38 times beginning in 1960-61 and the Spartans own a 25-12 advantage.
Coming into the this year’s game, Lima Senior owns a 11-2 mark and LCC is 9-7 for the season. Both teams feature plenty of talent but the two squads are still looking to find the right chemistry that will give them a long tournament run.
Lima Senior has been impressive in its first 13 games. With defense and depth the Spartans have dropped two games and one of those defeats was to No. 1 state ranked Cleveland St. Edward.
After getting off to delayed start and having to halt its season for two weeks in late January, Lima Senior is still finding its footing and identifying roles on the team.
Because of the late beginning and the two-week absence of playying, Lima Senior is cramming in league and non-league games in the final month of the season. Coming into the LCC contest, Lima Senior will have competed five times in 10 days.
“At this junction of the season kids would rather be playing games instead of practicing with me,” Spartans head coach Quincey Simpson said. “I’m sure all these kids will tell you we don’t practice very long. .. because at this point guys should know what the expectations are.
Playing top notch defense and taking smart shots are two areas Simpson puts a lot of emphasis on, along with solid rebounding. And if his team can keep improving in this area, the Spartans head coach said his team can get to the next level.
“In order to go from good to great we need to take another step and we want to get better in rebounding,” Simpson said. “If we can keep teams off the glass and give them only one one chance to score we put ourselves in a pretty good situation.
The Spartans are averaging 68 points a contest and giving up an average of 51 points.
Offensively, the Spartans have a number of players who can put up points.
“We are a good shooting team but we don’t want to be here just jacking up shots,” Simpson said. “We still want to get the ball inside but we do a lot of things in the gym with our offense. If a guy is open and confident they have the green light to shoot.”
The Spartans are coming off one its best outside shooting performances against Mansfield Senior where the team hit a season-high 13 3-pointers. The Spartans have had a well-balanced scoring attack with players like Khalil Luster, Jereon Mayo, Travis Bullock, Ant Moseley or Quan Moore who can score in double digits.
Simpson understands the relevance of the rivalry game against LCC, however, admits the Spartans primary focus is Toledo Whitmer at home Friday in a Three Rivers Athletic Conference Affair. Lima Senior is 3-0 in the conference.
“We have Whitmer on Friday and that is a conference game and much more important than Saturday,” Simpson said. “We take one game at a time but obviously the city of Lima is looking forward to us and LCC which is always a tremendous game.”
Lima Central Catholic
Like Lima Senior, defense and depth has carried LCC to a winning record. However, unlike its crosstown rivals, the Thunderbirds are trying to blend more youth into its line-up and this has led to an up and down year.
LCC has come up with some big wins over Ottawa-Glandorf and Perry this year, but the Thunderbirds are also prone to inconsistent outings and are coming off one of those in their loss to Van Wert Saturday. In that game, LCC went into halftime leading by nine but got stagnant on offense in the second half and the Cougars rallied for a 61-57 win.
Going into the Van Wert game, LCC appeared to have finally found a winning formula by winning five out of six. Led by Rossy Moore, the Thunderbirds were getting big contributions from a number of players such as juniors Evan Unruh, Meshaud Moore and Bryan Hines, along with freshmen DeMar Foster, Billy Bourk and Carson Parker.
“We have spurts of greatness in terms of speed and transition and the way that we play defense,” Kill said. “But then it is us turning the ball over in opportunity situations where all it takes is an extra pass and we get ourselves in trouble.
“The nice thing is that at the beginning of the season we talked about chemistry and right now we have three freshman playing with our juniors and seniors and right now I think it is coming together and hopefully it comes together at the right time.”
LCC is averaging 55 points a game and giving up around 51 points a contest.
Kill added that as the team continues to find the right combination for wins the Thunderbirds are looking forward to playing Lima Senior.
“They (Lima Senior) are always well-coached and prepared,” Kill said. “When you compete for the Lima Cup bragging rights are on the table and I feel right now we are one of the top teams in Lima but we have to go out and prove it. It is a shame the entire Lima community can’t be a part of it because of the restrictions but I think it will be a game that our kids will be up and ready for.”