By DAVE HANNEMAN
Last-second wins may be dramatic. But the way Jim Rucki sees it, it’s the other end of a game that more often than not determines who puts a ‘W’ in the win column.
“You can’t get that first minute back once you’ve lost it,” Rucki said.
“We definitely have guys who have been around the block before. They know the importance of coming out ready to play, especially when you’re going up against a good team.
“We’ve been emphasizing coming out with a good start, playing a great first minute, and we’ve responded well.”
In losses to Lima Bath (44-39) and Toledo St. John’s (59-48) slow starts put Findlay in a hole that second-half rallies couldn’t get them out of.
But in consecutive wins over Defiance (48-34), Toledo Whitmer (61-33) and Ottawa-Glandorf (55-36), solid play underscored by intense defensive play got the Trojans off to the kind of starts that resulted in wins.
“We’re striving to be more consistent in everything we do. That’s the name of the game,” Rucki said.
“A lot of teams can play well. It’s the teams that play consistently that win.
“We talk about that all the time. There are a lot of mistakes made in a basketball game. We’re trying to eliminate those mistakes, and when you can do that consistently and play with effort consistently and stick to fundamentals consistently, then good things happen.”
Findlay will carry the momentum of its three-game winning streak into a pivotal game on Friday when the Trojans, 10-2 overall and 5-1 in league play, host Toledo Central Catholic (9-2, 4-1). Both teams have league losses to Toledo St. John’s, and both are determined to stay on the heels of the Titans (10-2, 6-0) in the race for the 2013-14 TRAC title.
Central Catholic started the season 8-0, then lost in triple overtime to Toledo Scott (66-60) and in overtime to St. John’s (62-59).
The Irish rebounded on Tuesday with a 72-65 win over Toledo Woodward.
Rucki scouted Tuesday’s game, which reinforced much of what he already knew about TCC.
“They have tremendous speed and athleticism. They are really fast,” Rucki said.
The marquee name on the Central Catholic roster belongs to DeShone Kizer, a 6-foot-5 senior guard. Kizer is headed to Notre Dame to play quarterback for the Irish, but he’s a four-year starter in basketball as well. He also reminds Rucki of another quarterback/point guard.
“He’s kind of like Ben (Roethlisberger) was: deceptively big,” Rucki said.
“When he (Roethlisberger) spread out, he took up so much space, either posting up or on defense. That’s the way this kid (Kizer) is. He handles the ball well, he distributes the ball and he can score. He plays the point a lot, but they’ll have him go down and post him up or play him on a wing. He’s a smart player.”
Along with Kizer, seniors Nate Harris (6-6), Doug Biddle (6-7) and Tom Vetter (6-3) give Central Catholic coach Jim Welling good size inside. Jermiah Braswell and Marcus Winters, two 6-1 juniors who were the top receivers on TCC’s No.1-ranked football team, give the Irish good athleticism on the perimeter and on defense, along with seniors Montrese Marshall and Juwan Grier.
In other league games on Friday, Fremont Ross (8-3, 3-2) is at St. John’s, Lima Senior (3-6, 2-4) travels to Toledo St. Francis (3-8, 1-5), and Toledo Whitmer (3-7, 2-4) hosts Oregon Clay (2-10, 0-6).
The second round of TRAC play begins with a full slate of games Tuesday. Findlay will be at Oregon Clay in that matchup.
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