By DAVE HANNEMAN
TOLEDO — Jim Rucki wouldn’t call Findlay’s defensive effort in Friday’s 61-34 win over Toledo Whitmer the best of the season.
Based on the results, though, it had to rank among the best.
“I thought we could have, should have, converted more turnovers into points. And I think we’ve been more active at times,” Rucki said.
“Defensively we did a nice job, though, especially in the first half.”
Findlay led just 5-3 four minutes into the game, then blitzed Whitmer 27-6 the rest of the half to blow the Three Rivers Athletic Conference matchup wide open. The Trojans got excellent offensive balance, one-and-done rebounding and solid support off the bench. Underscoring everything else was a defensive effort that limited Whitmer, a young team that has struggled with turnovers and consistent scoring this season, to two baskets, four free throws and nine total points the entire first half.
“Whitmer’s a young team, and they’re not real strong with the ball all the time,” Rucki said.
“We were able to take advantage of that.”
Braden Miller’s steal and Adam Twining’s lay-up broke a 3-3 tie early in the first quarter. A Nick Kairys steal led to a 3-pointer by Grant McKinniss that put Findlay up 8-3.
Austin Gutting then scored eight points in the second quarter, Michael Clark six and Miller, known more for his defense and rebounding, four as Findlay’s lead mushroomed from 13-6 to 23-7 to 32-9 by the half. Findlay forced Whitmer into 14 of its 20 total turnovers in the first half, as the Trojans, who have been victimized twice this season by slow starts, jumped ahead early and stayed there.
Gutting scored 16 points, McKinniss 14 and Twining 10 as Findlay improved to 9-2 overall and 5-1 in the TRAC. Toledo St. John’s (10-2, 6-0) stayed atop the standings with a 62-59 overtime win over Toledo Central Catholic on Friday. Findlay will host Central Catholic (8-2, 4-1) next Friday.
Although the Ohio High School Athletic Association awarded Findlay two wins when Whitmer had to forfeit every victory from its 2011-12 season, Friday’s decision was the Trojans first on-court win over the Panthers since February of 2009.
Early on, it didn’t look as though it would be as decisive as it was.
Starters Gutting and Grant Niswander were hit with early foul trouble, and the Trojans struggled from both the field and the line, making just 3 of 14 field goals in the first quarter and only five of their first 10 attempts from the line.
Miller (9 points) more than doubled his scoring average, though, 6-foot-5 senior Duke Gobrecht sparked a late second-quarter run with a rebound, and steal and two free throws and the Trojans converted 12 of their last 15 free throws.
“Our bench gave us some really good minutes,” Rucki said.
“Not only did it not hurt us to go to our bench, those guys produced by getting a hand on the basketball, getting rebounds, scoring a couple of baskets.
“We need that, because there are going to be games where we really need to have seven, eight nine guys producing for us.”
D.J. Triplett, a freshman, led Whitmer with 10 points. Matrece Collins added eight points for the Panthers (3-7, 2-4 TRAC).
It was a complete sweep Friday night with Findlay’s freshmen beating Whitmer in overtime and the junior varsity nipping the Panthers 45-44 on Trey Buford’s lay-in with 4.5 seconds on the clock. Buford and Joey Hammond scored 13 points each for Findlay’s reserves, now 11-0 overall and 6-0 against TRAC teams.
Findlay returns home today to face Ottawa-Glandorf. The Titans improved 7-3 on Friday, rallying from a 39-37 deficit after three quarters to beat Lima Shawnee 57-44.
FINDLAY (9-2, 5-1)
B. Miller 3-3–9, Clark 2-1–6, Twining 4-2–10, Gutting 5-6–16, Niswander 1-0–2, Gobrecht 1-2–4, McKinniss 4-3–14, Kairys 0-0–0, C. Miller 0-0–0, Nunn 0-0–0, Hammond 0-0–0, Buford 0-0–0. TOTALS: 20-15–61.
TOLEDO WHITMER (3-7, 2-4)
Hickey 2-1–6, Collins 3-2–8, Schneider 1-0–2, Ashe 1-0–2, Parker 0-0–0, Stacker 2-1–6, Triplett 3-2–10, Boykin 0-0–0, Elliott 0-0–0, Kurdys 0-0–0, Williams 0-0–0. TOTALS: 12-6–34.
Findlay 8 24 17 12 — 61
Toledo Whitmer 3 6 13 12 — 34
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 4 (Clark, McKinniss 3); Toledo Whitmer 4 (Hickey, Stacker, Triplett 2).
junior varsity: Findlay, 45-44.
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