By DAVE HANNEMAN
First place in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference boys basketball standings will not be on the line when Findlay and Toledo St. Francis square off on Friday.
The way the 2019-20 season is playing out in the TRAC, though, the most intense battles will be for the bragging rights of finishing second.
Still unbeaten in league play, Lima Senior (16-3, 11-0 TRAC) has at least a share of the TRAC title already in hand. The Spartans host Fremont Ross (5-14, 2-10 TRAC) on Friday, Toledo Central Catholic (11-6, 7-3 TRAC) on Tuesday and travel to Findlay (13-7, 8-4 TRAC) on Feb. 21, and need just one win in any of those three games to claim an outright championship.
The real logjam in the TRAC is a four-team race between Central Catholic, Toledo St. Francis (12-7, 8-4 TRAC), Toledo St. John’s (11-7, 7-4 TRAC) and Findlay, which is looking to secure its highest finish in standings since the Trojans were third in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
Friday’s game at St. Francis will be a TRAC rematch of a Jan. 3 game at Findlay. The Trojans won that contest 70-50, but they may be seeing some different faces this week. Despite being one of the taller teams in the league, 6-foot-9 junior Cliron Hornbeak, 6-7 senior Ethan Plesac and 6-7 sophomore Martin Beredo never saw the floor.
“We had to go small, not because we wanted to but because we had to,” St. Francis coach Travis Lewis explained after that game. “We have the injury bug and some other things going on. We need to get guys healthy.”
The Knights seem on the mend. Since that January loss to Findlay, St. Francis has gone 7-3. During that stretch the Knights became the only team in the TRAC to beat Central Catholic twice.
Hornbeak appears to have played in every St. Francis game except the one at Findlay. He leads the team with an average of 6.1 rebound a game. Feisal Crumby averages 12.4 points and leads a balanced Knights’ offense.
After a home stand sweep of Fremont Ross and Elida last week, Findlay hits the road for its final away game of the 2019-20 regular season. The Trojans host Lima Senior next week, then will face either Toledo Bowsher or Bowling Green in a Division I district quarterfinal tournament game at Rossford on Feb. 28. A win there would earn the Trojans a berth in the Division I district semifinals at the University of Toledo.
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Findlay High’s girls team will be looking at a bit of a high-water mark as well when the Trojans travel to Toledo Whitmer today for their final regular-season game.
Findlay heads into the TRAC contest with a 6-7 league record. Overall, the Trojans are 11-10, and looking to secure the program’s first winning record since an 18-5 mark in 2012-13. Findlay, which had a break-even 12-12 record in 2016-17, has won three of its last five in pursuit of that winning record.
Following today’s game, Findlay will be off until Feb. 22 when the Trojans, who took a first-round bye, will face either Fremont Ross or Bowling Green in a Division I district tournament quarterfinal game at Fostoria.
TOURNAMENT TIME: Findlay High’s other winter sports programs are either already in OHSAA tournament competition or preparing for it.
On Saturday, FHS swimmers will be competing in the Division I district meet at BGSU’s Cooper Natatorium. The top two finishers in each individual event and relay will automatically qualify for the state meet in Canton. The OHSAA will complete the field in each event and relay from the top times accumulated from all of the district meets across the state.
Findlay’s hockey team, coming off a weekend split that included a 4-3 win over state-ranked Sylvania Northview, completes regular season play on Saturday with a Northwest Hockey Conference match against Toledo St. Francis at Tam-O-Shanter Arena.
The Trojans will then be returning to Tam-O-Shanter for the Northwest District tournament. Coaches met Wednesday to seed teams and determine the parings for the 11 schools that will take part in the tournament.
Findlay High’s gymnastics team is also gearing up for the district meet scheduled for Feb. 20 at BGSU’s Anderson Arena, with the top teams and individuals hoping to punch their ticket to the 2020 state meet Feb. 28-29 at Hillard Bradley High School.
Findlay High’s wrestling team will be in action at home Friday as the Trojans host Napoleon in a dual match.