MILLBURY – Defense has been Lima Senior’s bread and butter this season but against Sylvania Northview, the Spartans also needed an Ant, a little Moss and some Mayo, to overcome the Wildcats, 73-67, and capture the Division I district crown Saturday.
Lima Senior (19-4) advances to the regional semifinals against familiar foe Toledo St. John’s in Norwalk at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Spartan Jareon Mayo, who had a team high 17 points, made a huge steal with 23.5 seconds left to secure the victory. Teammate Ant Mosely notched six of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and snared eight rebounds while Brent Moss contributed with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Composure at the free throw line also proved instrumental for the Spartans down the stretch. After going 1 for 5 in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, Lima Senior was 7 of 8 in the final two minutes. Khalil Luster was 4 for 4 and Camren Miles was 2 for 2.
Lima Senior head coach Quincey Simpson said it was a total team effort to overcome a Wildcat team that adapted to Lima Senior’s pressure defense by the second quarter.
“At this time of the year we don’t expect blowouts,” Simpson said. “The only way you are going to get a blowout is if one team is playing terrible and the other team is playing absolutely phenomenal. We didn’t expect a blowout and we expected a dogfight.
Simpson added in this game he wanted to up the tempo.
“We didn’t think that we played fast last Thursday like we should so we wanted to get fast offensively and our motto has been we are a track team playing basketball.
Lima Senior jumped on Northview from the opening buzzer and forged a 13-3 advantage five minutes into the game thanks to some transition buckets off turnovers. By the time the first eight minutes ended, the Spartans were up 17-9.
In the second quarter, Northview began to handle the Spartans’ pressure and it was Lima Senior making uncharacteristic turnovers as the Wildcats slowly chipped away at the lead. At halftime, Northview had dwindled the lead to 31-27.
In the third quarter, the game was a see-saw affair with the game tied six times and the lead exchanging hands five times.
“The game was a game of runs and I think the momentum shifted and they (the Wildcats) started making some shots. They started making some shots and they got some defensive stops and that led to them being more confident so I think that was the difference in the second and third quarter,” Simpson said.
Tied at 50 going into the final eight minutes, it was Lima Senior which grabbed the early momentum by going up by four points and despite Northview’s best efforts to overtake the Spartans, the Wildcats failed to snare the lead at any point.
Hurting Northview’s chances was the absence Sean Craig who had fouled out. In the first three quarters, Craig had scored 17 points. Also not scoring in the fourth quarter was Justin Nue who had 12 points in the first three quarters.
Northview’s Justin Hunt finished with a game-high 24 points.
“If Sean Craig don’t foul out I don’t know if we win this game and I am being honest,” Simpson said. “We made a great punch to start the game and they took it and fought back.”
Simpson said this team making regionals is something few expected after losing 10 seniors.
“It is touching honestly because people don’t understand what guys like Khalil, Cam Miles, Jareon Mayo, Jourdyn Rawlins how much time they put in during the summer,” Simpson said. “I was hard on them. They accepted it and this is why they are cutting down nets.”