The good news is Lima Senior is Three Rivers Athletic Conference champions for the third straight season. The bad news is the Spartans will be sharing it with Toledo St. John’s Jesuit after falling to the Titans, 65-45, Friday night.
The loss snaps Lima Senior’s seven-game win streak and drops the Spartans to 16-3 on the year and it marks the team’s first loss in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference this year as they fall to 6-1. This also marks the first defeat in the conference in two seasons for Lima Senior who where 14-0 last year. St. John’s improves to 12-4 on the season and 5-1 in conference play.
This marks Lima Senior’s third straight TRAC title. The Spartans share the crown with at least Findlay. St. John’s can gain a share of the title with a victory tonight against Oregon Clay.
“We definitely wanted to win it outright but it was good to get another plaque and win it three times in a row but now the conference is over and we are going to move onto to Shawnee and then prepare for the tournament,” Simpson said.
Lima Senior’s offense never found a rhythm on both ends of the courts as the Titans handled the Spartan defensive pressure throughout the night to negate easy transition buckets. Because of their size and physical play, the Spartans had a tough time navigating the Titan defense and the outside shot did not connect all night for Lima Senior, hitting 4 of 19 from behind the 3-point arc.
The 41 points is the lowest offensive output for the Spartans this season.
Lima Senior did not have a single player score in double digits. Ant Moseley led the club with 9 points.
Toledo’s C.J. Hornbeak scored 16 points to lead the Titans and Brady Lichtenberg finished with 15 and scored 12 of those points in the third quarter to help St. John’s jump out to the big lead.
For the Titans, Simpson said it wasn’t so much their size but the Titans’ physical play and added that the Spartans did not have the fight they have had throughout this season and they didn’t finish when they had easy layup opportunities.
“We just didn’t make plays and finish plays,” Simpson said. “We had easy opportunities at the rim and we didn’t convert and we didn’t finish plays defensively. We got beat up on the glass and we got beat physically and this is the first time this year where a team has been more physical than we are so it is a good evaluation of ourselves.”
Simpson suggested that might have become a little too comfortable and this is a reminder that there is still more basketball to be played.
Toledo boast a starting lineup of players 6-foot-2 or more and a roster that has only two players under 6-feet.
St. John’s stymied Lima Senior’s offense and forced uncharacteristic Spartan turnovers and missed baskets and the Titans broke out to a 20-11 lead with 4:32 left in the first half.
Undeterred by the Titans’ size and early shaky start, the Spartans, with their quick hands on defense and smart ball movement on offense, rallied to slice the lead to one at halftime, 24-23. In the 13-4 run, Jareon Mayo had a pair of key 3-pointers.
But the Titans’ began to take over in the third quarter when they scored the 11-1 run to open the second
half to break to a 35-24 lead at the 5:11 mark. The Spartans cut the lead to 37-31 after Jourdyn Rawlins popped a 3-pointer with a little more than three minutes remaining in the quarter, but the Titans quelled the rally by ending the third stanza with a 10-1 run.