By DAVE HANNEMAN
OREGON — If Jim Rucki was hoping for better 3-point shooting from his Findlay High School boys basketball team on Tuesday, his wish was Granted.
Grant Niswander and Grant McKinniss combined for four of Findlay’s seven 3-pointers and the Trojans, for the second time this season, used a huge first-quarter run and stifling defense to post a 65-29 Three Rivers Athletic Conference win over Oregon Clay.
Findlay improved to 11-3 overall and 6-2 in the league as the second round of the TRAC home-and-home schedule got underway. Clay fell to 2-12, 0-8 in the league.
Findlay, shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc through its first 12 games, made just 1 of 13 3-pointers last Friday in a 50-47 loss to Toledo Central Catholic. Against Clay, the Trojans hit 3-of-5 3-pointers in the first quarter, 5-of-10 in the first half and 7-of-18 (39 percent) overall.
“We didn’t do anything different,” Rucki said. “We moved the ball really well, we got good open looks, and when we had those looks we made the shot.
“When you shoot the ball well, everything goes a lot smoother.”
Niswander, a 6-foot-1 junior, opened the game with a 3-pointer, then scored inside off a nice pass from Michael Clark, was fouled and completed the 3-point play to put Findlay up 6-2. Anthony Ramirez answered for Clay but the Trojans, who had a 15-0 first-quarter run in a 62-27 win over the Eagles on Dec. 6, went one better this time around, rattling off 16 straight points to take a 22-4 lead and grab control of the game early.
Niswander scored 11 of his game-high 16 points in the first quarter. McKinniss ended the first quarter with his first 3-pointer and opened the second quarter with his second as the lead ballooned to 25-7, then 28-9 when Braden Miller knocked down a three as well.
Niswander opened the second half with his second 3-point play of the night, Austin Gutting scored inside, and Clark converted two Clay turnovers into fast-break lay-ups. Adam Twining then hit a free throw, threw down a dunk off a Miller steal and drilled a 3-pointer of his own as Findlay’s lead mushroomed to 45-16 with 3:30 left in the third period.
Twining finished with 15 points and six rebounds and Gutting 12 points and eight boards. McKinniss added eight points.
Patrick Booth scored eight points and Ramirez seven for Clay.
From the early 16-0 run to a defensive effort that limited Clay to single-digit scoring in three of the four quarters to the near-identical final score, Tuesday’s win was almost a carbon copy of the first meeting between the teams.
That was a major plus as far as Rucki is concerned, especially with long-time rival Fremont Ross coming to Findlay Friday for another TRAC matchup.
“We told the guys the atmosphere tonight was not going to be like it was last Friday. The build up was not going to be the same as it was for (Toledo) Central Catholic,” Rucki said.
“We said we needed the same focus and intensity we showed that night and I think we did. We were pretty focused and executed right off the bat; we weren’t sloppy.
“Sometimes you can play sloppy and still beat a team that you’re better than, but that’s not improving as a team. Tonight we played hard, we executed well, we had good focus, and because of that we’ll be a better team tomorrow than we were today.”
Findlay’s junior varsity also romped, beating Clay’s reserves 60-28 to improve to 13-1 overall and 8-0 against TRAC schools. Drew Hapner led the Trojans with 16 points.
FINDLAY (11-3, 6-2)
B. Miller 1-0–3, Niswander 6-2–16, Clark 3-0–6, Twining 6-2–15, Gutting 6-0–12, McKinniss 3-0–8, Kairys 1-0–2, Nunn 1-0–3, Buford 0-0–0, Hammond 0-0–0. TOTALS: 27-4–65.
OREGON CLAY (2-12, 0-8)
Booth 4-0–8, Saenz 1-0–2, McCrory 1-1–3, Row 2-0–4, Ramirez 2-2–7, Twining 1-0–2, Seymour 1-0–3, Mildenberger 0-0–0, Kiss 0-0–0. TOTALS: 12-3–29.
Findlay 22 8 17 18 — 65
Oregon Clay 7 6 10 6 — 29
3-Point Goals: Findlay 7 (B. Miller, Niswander 2, Twining, McKinniss 2, Nunn); Oregon Clay 2 (Ramirez, Semour).
Rebounds: Findlay 27 (Gutting 8, Twining 6); Oregon Clay 19 (Ramirez 4).
Turnovers: Findlay 7, Oregon Clay 14.
Junior varsity: Findlay, 60-28.
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