By DAVE HANNEMAN
Tuesday’s 68-50 win over Toledo Scott may not have been the masterpiece Findlay High boys basketball coach Jim Rucki was hoping for.
But it wasn’t something that would hang on the fridge for a month or two and get shoved away in a back drawer, either.
“It was not our best performance,” Rucki said after the Trojans overcame a rash of early turnovers and a slow start to win their third straight game.
“But any time you get a win, that’s good. It’s a lot better than the alternative.”
A.J. Adams went on a one-man 12-0 spree during a game-changing second-quarter run and finished with 27 points. Findlay’s other four starters all scored between seven and nine points and subs Sam Weihrauch and Luke Montgomery combined for 10 points and 11 rebounds as the Trojans improved to 10-4, guaranteeing the program a 32nd consecutive season with double-digit wins.
Toledo Scott was just 2-9 and had lost four straight when the Bulldogs faced off against Findlay. The Trojans could not beg, borrow or steal a basket in the early going, though, costly turnovers hampered them even more.
Toledo Scott rode the hot-handed shooting of Christian Neal and Shawn Bradford to open leads of 11-6 and 14-8 in the first five minutes of the game.
“We weren’t sharp,” Rucki said.
“We didn’t take care of the ball very well and we had some point-blank opportunities where we didn’t finish. I thought we’d been making progress and was hoping we would show that tonight, but I don’t think we really did, not early on anyway.”
Battle-tested by a competitive schedule, Findlay found the offensive spark it needed on the defensive side of the ball.
Going to its zone trap and full-court pressure, the Trojans started forcing turnovers instead of committing them. The result was a 9-0 burst in the first quarter, Adams’ 12-0 explosion in the second, and a 28-7 surge in the final 11 minutes of the half that put the Trojans up 36-21.
“We wanted to hurry them up a little bit,” Rucki said. “We had to do something to get going.”
Adams ignited Findlay’s comeback in the first quarter with two free throws, a short jumper and a three-point play. Senior guard Isaiah Moore drove inside and scooped in a layup, then scored again when Adams found him on a backdoor cut, capping the 9-0 run that turned a 14-8 deficit into a 17-14 lead.
Scott trimmed the deficit to 17-15 when Neal ended the first quarter by converting one of two free throws, and trailed 21-17 when Neal hit two more foul shots 3:30 into the second period.
That’s when Adams took over. The 6-foot-4 junior made two foul shots with 4 minutes left in the first half, then scored on an alley-oop pass, tipped in two missed shots by the Trojans, and came up with a steal that he slammed home. When Adams scored on an assist from Moore, his 12-point barrage put Findlay up 33-17.
That lead stretched to 20 points in the third quarter and hovered around that margin the rest of the way.
“We had trouble handling their pressure and had a few turnovers, which basically made the difference,” said Scott coach Lawrence Collins.
“Those mistakes that we made in the second quarter pretty much cost us the game. We lost our momentum.”
Adams grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in addition to his 27 points. Moore added nine points, Brock Makrancy eight and Chris Strzempka and Max Roth seven each. Montgomery, a 6-5 freshman, had six points and four rebounds and Weihrauch, a 6-foot sophomore, had four points and seven rebounds.
Neal led Scott with 18 points, and Je’Quan Pack added nine.
Findlay’s 14 turnovers were a bit above average, but the Trojans shot fairly well, making 3 of 8 3-pointers and 29 of 54 shots (53.7 percent) overall. Findlay had a slight 29-28 edge on the boards, a bit of a concern heading into Friday’s game with Toledo Central Catholic and Saturday’s game at Toledo Start, two physical, athletic teams.
“We have two days of practice to work on things we need to get better at if we want to compete with the two teams we’re playing this weekend,” Rucki said.
“Central Catholic, especially, has the attributes that give us the most problems and that’s bulk and strength. We’ll have to fight hard to combat that somehow.”
TOLEDO SCOTT (2-10)
Joyce 1-4 0-0 3, Woodard 3-10 0-1 6, C. Neal 7-12 4-7 18, Pack 4-12 0-0 10, Bradford 4-10 0-0 9, T. Neal 1-2 0-0 2, Jordan 1-2 0-0 2, Kynard 0-0 0-0 0, Glover 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 21-53 4-8 — 50.
Strzempka 3-4 1-1 7, Moore 4-7 1-2 9, M. Roth 3-9 0-0 7, Adams 11-17 5-5 27, Makrancy 3-7 0-0 8, J. Roth 0-2 0-0 0, Weihrauch 2-4 0-0 4, Montgomery 3-5 0-1 6, Ross 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 29-54 7-9 — 68.
Toledo Scott 15 6 11 18 — 50
Findlay 17 19 20 12 — 68
3-Point GOALS: Toledo Scott 4-21 (Joyce 1-3, Woodard 0-4, C. Neal 0-1, Pack 2-8, Jordan 0-1, Bradford 1-4); Findlay 3-8 (M. Roth 1-3, J. Roth 0-1, Makrancy 2-4).
rebounds: Toledo Scott 28 (C. Neal 8, Bradford 6); Findlay 29 (Adams 8, Weihrauch 7, Montgomery 4).
turnovers: Toledo Scott 18; Findlay 14.
JUNIOR VARSITY: Findlay, 62-31.
FRESHMEN: Findlay, 41-31.