Girls basketball: Lima Senior fends off LCC

LIMA — For most of the game, it seemed like Lima Senior was in control.

However, in the fourth quarter, Lima Central Catholic made a run.

Lima Senior managed to stave off the Thunderbirds down the stretch for a hard-fought 46-43 victory in girls high school basketball Saturday afternoon at Lima Senior.

LCC did not record its first lead of the game, 34-33, until early in the fourth quarter.

However, the Spartans made just enough plays in the final moments of the contest to hold off the T-Birds.

Lima Senior head coach LaKeisha Sigman said she was pleased at the way her team responded in the fourth quarter.

“Our girls are really young. … They’re still learning how to win,” Sigman said. “I think, today, they did a much better job of that (holding on for the win) – with those timeouts and making those adjustments. … They did a nice job.”

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Anya James led Lima Senior (2-2) with 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Ayrianna Engberg had nine points, including two 3-pointers. Amiyah Coleman scored eight points, including two 3-pointers. Tiana Spivey added eight points and eight rebounds. Tillie Nelson, a 5-foot-11 senior forward, pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with three steals and two points.

Sigman said she constantly stresses the importance of controlling the boards to her players.

“We really work on it (rebounding) a lot in practice. It’s one of the last things I say before we go out to play – ‘Make sure we control the boards.’ Tillie (Nelson) puts that on her back; and she really believes that she needs to get in there and grab every rebound.”

However, for the game, LCC held a slight edge on the boards, 48-44.

Kiegh Macklin led LCC (2-4) with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Olivia Stolly, who got into foul trouble in the second half and eventually fouled out, ended the game with 11 points, including 7-of-8 shooting from the free throw line. Stolly also had six rebounds and three steals at her guard spot.

Lima Senior raced out to an 11-2 lead by the end of the first quarter. LCC really struggled at the offensive end, connecting on just 1 of 15 shots from the field. The T-Birds also committed eight turnovers in the opening stanza. After that dismal start, LCC turned it over just eight times the rest of the way. Lima Senior turned it over 12 times on the day.

LCC settled down at the offensive end in the second quarter. By the halftime break, Lima Senior led 24-17.

In the first half, Lima Senior shot 24 percent. LCC shot 20 percent from the field.

Lima Senior ended the game shooting 25 percent. The T-Birds shot 22 percent.

Anya James, a 5-foot-6 sophomore point-guard for Lima Senior, scored 10 points in the second half and made a couple key plays down the stretch.

“She’s definitely learning,” Sigman said about James. “I see so much growth from last year. I told her that we watched a little bit of film; and I said the difference from last year at this time, until now, is a huge difference. She’s put in a lot of work. She’s grown in the game – just understanding what her job is as a point guard.”

Lima Senior led 33-25 at the end of three quarters of action.

But LCC made a run in the fourth quarter.

The T-Birds finally took the lead, 34-33, at the 5:15 mark, on two free throws by Stolly.

However, Stolly fouled out with 2:58 left in the game.

LCC lost the lead, and then reclaimed the lead, 37-35, with 2:45 left to play, on two free throws by Macklin.

Then, with 1:18 left in the contest, Lima Senior’s Amiyah Coleman made a 3-pointer at the top of the key to give the Spartans a 40-38 lead.

In the final minute, James scored four points to help close it out for the Spartans.

Sigman was pleased to get out with the hard-fought win.

“We went to LCC last year, and we got beat up pretty good. So, it was important for them to come in today, really work hard and get the job done,” she said.

Mark Altstaetter wrote this story for Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.