By DAVE HANNEMAN
Findlay got a huge double-double from senior wing Adam Twining and some sound advice from head coach Jim Rucki as the Trojans pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 54-39 win over Lima Senior Tuesday night in a Three Rivers Athletic Conference matchup between the I-75 rivals.
Twining scored 24 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, both season highs, to help Findlay improve to 14-4 overall and 8-3 in the TRAC.
“It’s all about doing the things that need to be done to get the win,” Twining said.
“Coach made it clear we could rebound well against these guys if we crashed the boards. I knew that would help us get more possessions, more possessions meant more opportunities to score and that would help us get a ‘W.’”
Rucki’s best advice didn’t involve rebounding, though. Or shot selection or offensive sets or defensive patterns.
Rucki’s best advice was a bit more Zen-like than that.
Findlay raced to an 11-4 lead in the first six minutes of the game. But the Trojans could never shake the Spartans, who trailed just 22-20 late in the first half after a Brady Allen 3-pointer and two Jay Thomas free throws, and just 29-26 after Rico Stafford’s two foul shots late in the third quarter.
Findlay was not playing high-efficiency basketball. But Rucki grounded the Trojans with a solid dose of perspective.
“At the end of the third quarter we said, ‘Okay, let’s all just relax, take a deep breath and refocus ourselves,” Rucki said.
“We hadn’t really done a great job in the third quarter. We turned the ball over five times, we had some foul trouble, we didn’t look good. But we won that quarter by one point, so we told the guys to go out and play eight good minutes of basketball …. and we did.”
Grant Niswander, who came up with a steal and completed a 3-point play after Lima Senior had run off almost a full minute looking for the last shot of the first half, swiped another pass that led to two Twining free throws to open the fourth quarter.
An offensive rebound by 5-foot-9 senior guard Braden Miller led to a Michael Clark 3-pointer that boosted Findlay’s lead to 39-30. A free throw and then a basket by Twining gave Findlay a double-digit lead (42-30) that grew to 15 points thanks to a 6-for-7 effort from the line and some excellent play by Duke Gobrecht in the final five minutes.
Gobrecht, a 6-5 senior who comes off the bench to spell starting center Austin Gutting, got the call when Gutting was called for a charge, his fifth foul, in the fourth quarter.
Gobrecht stepped right into the mix, scoring six points in the game’s final 2:36 by converting 2-of-3 free throws and scoring on two solid moves to the basket. He also had an assist on a basket by Twining and a block.
“We probably don’t do a good enough job of emphasizing how important every single one of those guys are,” Rucki said.
“You just never know when you are going to be needed. You have to be ready and he was. Duke did a great job. We needed him and he came through.”
Lima Senior, which had won four of its last six entering Tuesday’s contest, fell to 6-9 overall, 4-6 in the TRAC.
“We played well tonight, but we just could not get over that 5-point hump,” said Lima Senior coach Shawn Allen.
“Like at the end of the first half. We’re down two (22-20), we’re going for the last shot, but we turn the ball over, Findlay gets a lay-up and a foul, we’re down five (25-20) at the half. It’s a progression. When those sophomores become juniors, hopefully they don’t make those mistakes.”
Clark added nine points and Niswander eight for Findlay. Allen led Lima Senior with 11 points. Ruben Flowers and Thomas added 10 points each for a young Spartans’ team that started four sophomores.
“We’ve been going with that group for six, seven games now,” coach Allen said. “They’re big, they’re athletic and they give us a lot of energy. That’s going to be a pretty talented group.”
A talented group, though, that is still developing.
“We’re better now than we were at the beginning of the year, and as a coach that’s what you want,” Allen said.
“All coaches can coach great athletes. We’d all be undefeated if we had the players. But as a coach, are your kids getting better? Our kids are getting better. We’re a step closer than we were when we played Findlay the first time, but we’ve still got some work to do.”
Findlay and Lima Senior could meet for a third time, if the two teams get paired in the same bracket for the Division I tournament drawing being held on Sunday at Liberty-Benton.
Findlay’s junior varsity improved to 17-1 with a 60-45 win over Lima Senior’s reserves.
Joey Hammond had 19 points, Trey Buford 11 and Chase Miller nine for Findlay, 10-0 against TRAC opponents.
LIMA SENIOR (6-9, 4-6)
Flowers 4-13 2-6–10, Liles 1-2 0-0 –2, Allen 4-8 0-0–11, Stafford 0-3 2-4–4, Thomas 3-10 4-5–10, Gunn 1-2 0-0–2, Jackson 1-2 0-0–2, Miller 0-0 0-0–0, Graham 0-1 0-0–0. TOTALS: 14-41 8-15–39.
FINDLAY (14-4, 8-3)
B. Miller 0-2 0-0–0, Niswander 2-6 3-3–8, Clark 3-5 2-2–9, Twining 10-17 4-6–24, Gutting 2-10 0-0–4, Gobrecht 2-3 2-3–6, McKinniss 1-1 0-0–3, Kairys 0-0 0-0–0, C. Miller 0-1 0-0–0, Nunn 0-0 0-0–0. TOTALS: 20-45 11-14–54.
Lima Senior 8 12 8 11 — 39
Findlay 13 12 9 20 — 54
3-Point GOALS: Lima Senior 3-10 (Allen 3-6, Thomas 0-4); Findlay 3-13 (B. Miller 0-2, Niswander 1-3, Clark 1-3, Twining 0-3, C. Miller 0-1, McKinniss 1-1).
rebounds: Lima Senior 31 (Flowers 8); Findlay 28 (Twining 13).
turnovers: Lima Senior 13, Findlay 9.
junior varsity: Findlay 60-45.
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