By DAVE HANNEMAN
Findlay virtually yanked the Three Rivers Athletic Conference boys basketball trophy out of the hands of Toledo St. John’s two weeks ago.
Friday night, the Trojans have the chance to give it back.
“I’m sure (St. John’s) will be rooting for us,” FHS coach Jim Rucki said as he prepared his Trojans for Friday’s Three Rivers Athletic Conference clash at Toledo Central Catholic
St. John’s won its first 11 TRAC games. Findlay knocked off the Titans 63-57 two weeks ago, and Central Catholic followed that with a 55-37 victory at St. John’s last Friday. St. John’s (15-6, 11-2 TRAC) can still gain at least a share of the title if Findlay (16-4, 10-3 TRAC) beats Central Catholic (17-3, 12-1 TRAC) and the Titans get past Fremont Ross during Friday’s last round of league games.
Findlay got off to a great start in a Jan. 17 game with Central Catholic, leading 20-17 after the first quarter and 22-17 early in the second. The Trojans were outscored 33-25 the rest of the way, though, as TCC’s quickness and athleticism turned the tide.
“They are extremely athletic with a bunch of Division I-scholarship athletes and very fast,” Rucki said. “They guard well and they have a number of offensive weapons.”
Central Catholic, which started the season 8-0 before dropping back-to-back games in triple overtime to Toledo Scott (66-60) and in overtime to St. John’s (62-59) is also on another roll.
“They handled St. John’s at St. John’s. They’re playing really well right now,” Rucki said of Central Catholic’s nine-game winning streak.
Nathaniel Harris scored 15 points and Marcus Winters 14 in TCC’s earlier matchup with Findlay. But the key for the Irish is DeShone Kizer, a 6-5 senior guard recruited to play quarterback for Notre Dame.
“DeShone Kizer makes those other guys dangerous because he occupies so much of your attention defensively,” Rucki said.
“You have to be concerned about what he’s doing all the time. We tried to trap him the last time we played them, but he has such great vision he was able to throw over the top of it. We had to help out more than we wanted and they hurt us by getting some easy baskets inside.
“We need that help defense, but we have to recover quicker on the other guys.”
Rucki will also be keeping tabs on Findlay’s rebounding numbers. The Trojans beat Toledo Whitmer last Friday, but were outrebounded badly on the offensive end and 33-16 overall in a 68-64 overtime win.
“The more we have to help out, the tougher it is to do everything else. But we have to defensive rebound. That’s something we did not do a good job of Friday,” Rucki said.
Friday’s game closes the book on the 2013-14 regular season. The second season — the tournament — begins next week, with Findlay, the No. 2 seeded team in the Division I sectional at Otsego, facing either Bowling Green or Lima Senior next Friday.
“We have a tough game Friday,” Rucki said.
“We have to compete really hard. We’ll need to raise our level of play to beat them. (But) With the season winding down and tournament play coming up, hopefully that’s what you want your team doing this time of year.”
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