By DAVE HANNEMAN
The numbers say Findlay High School boys basketball team is playing better now than it was six weeks ago.
Friday night, the Trojans hope to prove it.
Findlay heads up I-75 on Friday to take on Toledo St. Francis in a Three Rivers Athletic Conference matchup. The Trojans (12-3, 7-2 TRAC) already own one win over the Knights (4-11, 2-7), but Jim Rucki and his staff know the game tape of that 50-46 pre-Christmas victory won’t be on the 2013-14 highlight reel.
“We weren’t at our best that night,” Rucki said.
“Part of that might have been because (St. Francis) played very well and they probably worked harder than we did. We need to step it up and try to be more effective this time.”
Utilizing its depth (13 players saw action, 10 of them scored) and defensive aggressiveness (Findlay turned the ball over 17 times and made just 41 percent of its shots), St. Francis nearly pulled off the TRAC upset of the young season back in December. The Knights led 20-19 in the second quarter, knotted the game 31-31 in the third, and twice got within four points in the final three minutes.
Two offensive rebounds in the final minute were huge for Findlay. The Trojans did outrebound St. Francis 27-16, but shot the same from the foul line (5 of 13) as they did from 3-point range (5 of 13).
St. Francis has as many wins this season (4) as the program managed all last year. Three of the Knights’ losses were in overtime and three others were by six points or less, including the narrow December loss.
“This is a big one for us because (St. Francis) played us pretty tough the first time,” Rucki said.
“Plus it’s at their place. We have to be on top of our game. Any time you’re on the road, especially in this league, you have to have your ‘A’ game.”
Findlay’s ‘A’ game has revolved around it’s ‘D’,
Findlay has won five its last six games and in all five of those victories the Trojans have held the opposition to 36 points or less. The only setback during that stretch was a 50-47 loss to Toledo Central Catholic.
Through 15 games, the Trojans are allowing an average of just 40.9 points a game.
“We’ve been playing really hard. We’ve been very active on defense. We need to carry that over,” Rucki said.
“I think we’re getting better and better defensively. We need to strive to be more consistent, especially on the offensive end.”
Winter weather has thrown a wrench into schedules and practice times this season. Findlay got its game with Fremont Ross in last Friday and was able to practice on Monday, but could not use the gym on Tuesday when school was cancelled.
“It was good we got that game in Friday, even better that we won,” Rucki said.
“Some teams haven’t played in two weeks. I’m assuming we’ll have school tomorrow (Wednesday). We need to have two good practices in before we play Friday.”
Findlay will head the other way on I-75 on Saturday when the Trojans travel to Lima Shawnee for a nonleague game. Shawnee is 5-10 this season, 2-3 in the Western Buckeye League.
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