By DAVE HANNEMAN
TOLEDO — Toledo Start’s Devin Williams was rather quiet over the first three quarters of Friday’s boys basketball game with Findlay.
When it counted most, though, the junior guard came through loud and clear.
Williams scored six of his game-high 18 points in the final 1:26 of the game, almost single-handedly stemming Findlay’s comeback and earning the Spartans a 50-42 nonleague win in the season opener for both teams.
“Devin is one of our captains, one of our two most experienced players back,” said second-year Start coach Matt Wortham.
“He hung his head a bit after he made a few mistakes, had a few turnovers earlier in the fourth quarter. But we locked eyes with him and he came back. We need that out of him.”
Williams was Start’s only player in double figures. But the Spartans showed depth and balance — five players scored between 5 and 7 points — and a defensive tenacity that put Findlay off its game.
The Trojans, usually an excellent outside shooting team, connected on just 5 of 20 3-pointers and 15 of 46 shots overall.
“We did not have a good shooting night,” said Jim Rucki, beginning his 19th season as Findlay High’s head coach. “We have to shoot better to have some success.”
Findlay led 7-4 and 7-6 in the first quarter and 12-11 when Ryan Roth nailed a 3-pointer to open the second. Adrian Michael answered with a 3-pointer for Start, though, and Williams scored his only four points of the first half to put the Spartans up 18-14.
Start never trailed after that, but Findlay made sure the Spartans never got real comfortable, either.
Two 3-pointers by Roth cut Start’s lead to a single point twice in the third quarter. Ryan Nunn scored Findlay’s other seven points in the period, trimming the deficit to a single point (26-25) as well.
Start led 34-29 entering the final period. But Adam Gutting scored on a drive and Roth drove the baseline for a scoop shot that cut the deficit to 34-33. Findlay was still down just one (36-35) after Gutting converted an offensive rebound with five minutes to play.
Start’s Trent Harris, who until that point had only three rebounds in his stat line, then made some noise of his own. The 6-6 senior scored inside, then got an offensive rebound the next time down the floor and fed the ball to the wing where Alex Perry knocked down a 3-pointer.
Harris then grabbed another offensive rebound and threw down a two-hand slam on a return pass from Tyrik Barnine.
That put Start up 43-35, but Findlay rallied back one more time, pulling within 44-40 with 1:51 left when Nunn drove for a basket and Gutting completed a 3-point play. Roth made it one-possession game when he scored after a steal by A.J. Adams, but Williams ended Findlay’s hopes with his six-point run in the final 86 seconds.
Roth had 16 points, Nunn 14 points and seven rebounds, and Gutting eight points and six rebounds.
“The kids competed. They played hard,” Rucki said. “It looked like the first game of a season. We need to be sharper passing and catching the ball and we have to slow the game down.
“I don’t mean go into a stall; I mean individually we have to be less frantic and play more under control. That will come, though. That’s one of those things that comes with game experience.”
Findlay has its home opener on Tuesday when the Trojans host Toledo Woodward in a nonleague game.
Findlay’s junior varsity opened its season on a winning note, beating Start’s reserves 42-33. Chris Strzempka and Jordan Foster scored six points each for the Trojans.
Roth 6-16 0-0 16, Nunn 4-12 5-6 14, Gutting 3-4 2-3 8, Howard 2-7 0-0 4, Schumm 0-2 0-0 0, Adams 0-3 0-0 0, McCormick 0-1 0-0 0, Stillings 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 15-46 7-9 — 42
TOLEDO START (1-0)
Williams 6-13 4-8 18 Perry 3-4 0-0 7, Barbine 2-6 1-6 5, Harris 3-3 0-0 6, Lewis 2-7 0-0 5, Neeley 0-0 0-0 0, Kernnedy-Bey 1-3 0-0 3, Floyd 0-1 0-0 0, Michael 2-3 1-2 6, McDonald 0-0 0-0 0, Collier 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19-42 6-16 — 50
Findlay 9 7 13 13 — 42
Toledo Start 9 11 14 16 — 50
3-POINT GOALS: Findlay 5-20 (Roth 4-12, Nunn 1-4, McCormick 0-1, Howard 0-3); Toledo Start 6-16 (Williams 2-3, Perry 1-1, Barbine 0-1, Kennedy-Bey 1-3, Lewis 1-4, Michael 1-2).
REBOUNDS: Findlay 32 (Nunn 7, Gutting 6, Howard 5); Toledo Start 31 (Perry 6, Harris 4, Michael 4).
TURNOVERS: Findlay 13, Toledo Start 10.
JUNIOR VARSITY: Findlay, 42-33.
Send an E-mail to Dave Hanneman