NORWALK — Too much size and too many missed shots proved to be too much for Lima Senior to overcome as the Spartans fell to Cleveland St. Ignatius, 56-44, in the Division I regional final Saturday.
The Wildcats, who boast a line-up with no one under 6-foot and a front line of 6-foot-4 and a pair of 6-foot-7 players, utilized its length to disrupt Lima Senior’s offense and neutralize the Spartans’ speed on defense.
Lima Senior finishes its year with a 20-5 mark. St. Ignatius (19-6) advances to the state semifinals at the University of Dayton at 8 p.m. Saturday.
“We didn’t make shots,” Lima Senior head coach Quincey Simpson said. “Anytime you are playing a team with that type of size and you don’t make shots its tough. I didn’t think we attacked the basket. We were very cautious because of the size.
“I could not be more proud of my guys for the season we had.”
With the distinct height advantage, the Wildcats dominated the first half and opened up a 27-12 lead going into the final two quarters.
In those first 16 minutes, Lima Senior was limited to three field goals as the team shot 19 percent from the floor. The Wildcats’ big boys had something to do with that as they thwarted numerous attempts at layups and were all over Lima Senior’s outside shooters.
Despite the poor first half, Lima Senior came out with a renewed vigor and started playing like the Spartan team that got them to this point and began slicing into the St. Ignatius lead and by the 5:47 mark had got to within six, 29-23.
But St. Ignatius regrouped to stave off the Spartan offensive surge and kept Lima Senior from getting any closer and held a 37-28 lead going into the final eight minutes.
The Spartans continued to try and dig themselves out of that early hole but every time Lima Senior cut it to single digits, St. Ignatius answered with small runs of its own and when the Wildcats’ Henry Raynor dunked one to give them the 51-37 lead with two minutes remaining it ended all doubts of the outcome.
“I thought we made some plays in the second half,” Simpson said. “We didn’t care about the score, and we made plays and we made a couple of small runs but we missed a couple of key layups that could have changed the game for us.”
Sitting in a 2-3 zone, the Spartans needed some big 3-pointers to soften the Wildcat defense but Lima Senior never found its outside shooting touch and finished 3 of 13 from behind the 3-point arc for the game.
“We knew they were going to play two or three different defenses and we knew that which ever one gave us the most issues they would stay in and they did with the 2-3 zone,” Simpson said. “We picked a bad day not to make shots. We are a good shooting team, and I thought if we would have made some shots they would have come out of the zone and we could have done some things different.”
Lima Senior’s Camren Miles finished with a team-high 14 points and was the lone Spartan to crack double digits.
For St. Ignatius, Raynor scored a game-high 19 points and Jon Effertz added 14 points.
Simpson was disappointed with the outcome but remains optimistic about the future. He says good-bye to five seniors, Travis Bullock, Mickel Walker, Jourdyn Rawlins and Quan Moore.
“I don’t think anybody thought we would be here,” Simpson said. “We lost 10 seniors but these guys put a lot of work in the fall and throughout the season. Hidden hours that nobody sees and these guys embraced that.
“We are going to have the same goals that we had this year because we have a lot of the pieces coming back, and it is just a testament to the work that these guys and my coaching staff has done. But we came up short.”