By DAVE HANNEMAN
Just when Findlay seemed to be getting a grip on Friday’s game with Toledo Central Catholic, DeShone Kizer got his big mitts on the basketball.
Findlay had the momentum after erasing a nine-point deficit and had the ball after Grant Niswander took a charge from Central Catholic’s Marcus Winters with 1:30 to play. Kizer reached his long arms around Adam Twining and forced a tie-up, though. The possession arrow favored Central Catholic and Nathaniel Harris scored the go-ahead basket with 52 seconds on the clock.
Kizer added two free throws with 23 seconds left and the Fighting Irish held on for a 50-47 Three Rivers Athletic Conference win over the Trojans. The Irish improved to 10-2 overall, 5-1 in the TRAC and took over sole possession of second place in the standings behind Toledo St. John’s (11-2, 7-0).
“Winning on the road, at Findlay or anywhere else in the TRAC, I think everybody knows that is not easy,” Central Catholic coach Jim Welling said.
Findlay had a three-game winning streak halted and fell to 10-3 overall, 5-2 in the league.
Findlay trailed 45-36 when Winters nailed his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 5:25 left. But the Trojans, who scored more points in the first quarter (20) than in the second and third periods combined (14), weren’t about to go quietly.
Austin Gutting tipped in a missed free throw with 3:16 to play, and Findlay smartly began trading fouls for clock-time. It worked, with Harris and Kizer both missing the front end of one-and-ones and Findlay capitalizing on the other end, first on a 3-pointer by Michael Clark with 2:04 to play, then two free throws the senior guard at the 1:49 mark.
Clark then came up with a steal and fed Twining for the basket that tied it 45-45 with 1:43 on the clock.
After the charging call on Winters, Findlay worked the ball up court. When the pass went to Twining near the sideline, Kizer, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, got the jump-ball call that flipped the court. Findlay got it back to 49-47 on Gutting’s basket with 6.3 seconds left. Harris, who led Central Catholic with 15 points, hit one of two free throws to make it 50-47, and Twining’s 40 footer was off the mark at the buzzer.
“Tonight, Central Catholic just made a couple of more plays than we did,” said FHS coach Jim Rucki.
“Our guys played really hard, they competed really hard, and they got after it. You can’t ask for any more than that.”
Gutting led Findlay with 21 points, including 10 in the first quarter when he and Harris, Central Catholic’s 6-6 senior post, traded basket for basket. Twining scored six of his 13 points in the first quarter, when Findlay made 9 of 10 2-point attempts and forged a 20-17 lead.
“We got off to a great start offensively, but defensively we didn’t do a great job,” Rucki said.
“A lot of that was due to them. (Central Catholic) has quickness and they’re athletic and they have weapons at every position. They also executed really well. They broke us down a little bit, we had to help and their big guy (Harris) scored.
“They executed better offensively than we did defensively.”
Central Catholic also got clutch scoring from Winters, a junior guard whose five baskets were daggers in Findlay’s chances.
Winters nailed a 3-pointer after Findlay had trimmed a six-point deficit to 28-26 late in the second quarter. With Findlay working for the last shot, Winters turned a turnover into a lay-in that made it 33-26 at the half.
Findlay rallied again in the third quarter, getting within three (37-34) on Twining’s basket and a 3-point play by Gutting. TCC then worked the ball around before Kizer found Winters in the corner and Winters drained another 3-pointer.
“We gambled a little on a trap-zone at the end of the third quarter. That was stupid on my part because Kizer hit the kid (Winters) in the corner and he hits a ’3′,” Rucki said. “The end of the second quarter and the third quarter killed us.”
Findlay connected on 18 of 37 shots; Central Catholic made 19 of 34. A significant difference was the 3-point line, where TCC was 5 for 10 and Findlay 1 for 13.
Both teams will have little down time, with the second round of the TRAC schedule getting underway Tuesday with Findlay traveling to Oregon Clay.
“There’s no second guessing the effort our guys gave tonight,’ Rucki said.
“Our guys battled, they gave tremendous effort and focus, and they were competitive We have to have that same thing on Tuesday. The crowd won’t be as big. The build-up won’t be as big, but we have to come out with the same effort and intensity we had tonight.”
In Friday’s opener, Joey Hammond scored six of his 23 points in overtime as Findlay’s junior varsity beat TCC’s reserves 52-43. Trey Buford added 11 points for the Trojans, 12-1 overall and 7-0 against TRAC teams.
toledo central cath. (9-2, 4-1)
Winters 5-8 0-0 14, Braswell 4-6 2-2 10, Kizer 2-7 2-3 6, Harris 6-9 3-5 15, Vetter 0-1 0-0 0, Grombacher 0-0 0-0 0, Biddle 1-1 0-0 2, Marshall 1-1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 19-34 7-10–50.
findlay (10-2, 5-1)
B. Miller 0-2 0-1 0, Niswander 3-4 0-2 6, Clark 2-9 2-2 7, Twining 6-8 1-2 13, Gutting 7-12 7-7 21, McKinniss 0-1 0-0 0, Gobrecht 0-0 0-0 0, Kairys 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18-37 10-14–47.
Toledo Central Catholic 17 16 7 10 — 50
Findlay 20 6 8 13 — 47
3-Point GOALS: Toledo Central Catholic 5-10 (Winters 4-7, Braswell 0-1, Marsall 1-1, Kizer 0-1); Findlay 1-13 (Clark 1-7, B. Miller 0-2, Niswander 0-1, McKinniss 0-1, Twining 0-1, Kairys 0-1 ).
rebounds: Toledo Central Catholic 17 (Harris 6, Kizer 6); Findlay 17 (Gutting 6, Twining 4, Niswander 4).
turnovers: Toledo Central Catholic 15, Findlay 13.
junior varsity: Findlay, 52-43, OT.
Send an E-mail to Dave Hanneman