Local Sports from The Courier
Thursday, January 17, 2013Boys Basketball: Findlay and Lima Senior battle Friday
Jim Rucki knows Lima Senior is a virtual powder keg ready to explode.
He's just hoping the Spartans don't light that fuse Friday night.
"We saw them last night and they looked really good against (Toledo) Central Catholic," Rucki said after watching Lima Senior go nip-and-tuck with one of the Three Rivers Athletic Conference leaders before falling 68-57 to the No. 5-ranked Fighting Irish Tuesday night.
"They have some guys who can create their own shots and then make them.
"And they have two nice freshmen post players, both athletic and long, who rebound well.
"They are quick, they're athletic and they have a little more size than last year.
"I know when we play Lima it's always a big game for us, and I assume it is for them, too."
Findlay and Lima Senior will clash for the 59th time in the long-running series between the I-75 rivals when the Trojans (7-4, 4-1 TRAC) and Spartans (4-6, 2-4) take the floor Friday in a Three Rivers Athletic Conference matchup at Lima Senior.
"Technically, we're not through the first round (of league play), yet," Rucki said.
"All we can do is take care of our own games and try to head into the second round in a good position."
Toledo Whitmer (10-2) and Toledo St. John's (10-3) are both 5-1 in the TRAC. Findlay and Central Catholic (8-1) are 4-1.
St. John's hosts Central Catholic in a key matchup Friday. On Tuesday, Findlay is at Central Catholic and St. John's is at Whitmer in another round of head-to-head matchups that will greatly impact the league standings.
With only two veterans with any varsity playing time back, experience was a major concern as Shawn Allen began his sixth season as Lima Senior's head coach.
The Spartans got out of the gate fast, though, winning four of their first five games.
Lima Senior has since lost five straight but have shown explosive streaks at times in those recent setbacks.
Lima Senior had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter before falling to Fremont Ross (71-61), took both Toledo Whitmer (70-64) and Elida (71-68) down to the wire, and had early leads against both Toledo St. John's and Toledo Central Catholic.
Senior guards Devon Allen and Isiah Simpson are giving the Spartans a combined 30 to 35 points a game.
The emergence of promising freshmen post players Ruben Flowers (6-foot-8) and Rico Stafford (6-4) has been a plus as well.
Always quick and aggressive, Lima Senior will use its defensive pressure to force the turnovers that trigger a get-it-and-go transition game.
"We know they're going to trap and throw a couple of different kinds of presses at us," Rucki said. "We have to be prepared for that."
Turnovers have been a concern this season, and could be a pivotal factor Friday.
Findlay's turnover average (about 15 per game) isn't extremelyly high. But the timing of the turnovers has often been destructive.
In a nonleague game against Ottawa-Glandorf last Saturday, Findlay led 23-18 at the half.
But the Trojans committed five turnovers and O-G none in a turn-around third quarter that propelled the Titans to a 53-43 victory.
"I think the biggest thing is we need to be smarter with the ball," Rucki said.
"You can't always do what you want to do. Every team is going to take things away from you, so you have to see the second option.
"You have to pass-fake, get the defense going one way and passing the ball the other.
"What it comes down to is we have to value the ball better."
Findlay's girls are also in the thick of the Three Rivers Athletic Conference basketball race for first place and will be looking to stay there when the Trojans host Toledo Central Catholic today at the Findlay High gymnasium.
Toledo Notre Dame (10-3, 7-0 TRAC) leads the league by one game over Findlay (10-3, 6-1) and two games over Central Catholic (8-4, 5-2).
The Trojans are at Toledo Whitmer (10-4, 4-3) next Thursday and will host Notre Dame on Jan. 28.
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