By DAVE HANNEMAN
Findlay didn’t get the shot Jim Rucki drew up when he took a timeout with the score tied 52-52 and just 27 seconds left in Tuesday’s Three River Athletic Conference game with Toledo Central Catholic.
But Kyle Nunn made sure the Trojans got the shot they needed.
Nunn’s pull-up jumper from the foul line caught enough of the rim, bounced up and off the backboard, and rolled in as the final second ticked off the clock to cap a hard-fought 54-52 win over the Irish.
“We always practice some last-second situations, and that was one of them,” Nunn said. “They kind of sat back and let me attack, so I knew I had to drive. My shot is the elbow, so that’s where I tried to get to on the court.
“I got a little lucky on the shot, but I got to my spot, put it up and the rest is history.”
Nunn’s basket wasn’t the textbook finish Rucki drew up. But he had plenty of confidence his senior forward would make something positive happen.
“We had something else called, a set play we were going to go to with seven or eight seconds left,” Rucki said. “But when we saw how it developed, when we saw how they were guarding him, we decided to have everyone else flatten out on the baseline and let (Nunn) take it.
“When good players make good plays like that, it makes you look like a genius.”
Nunn’s game-winning basket gave him a game-high 21 points. Drew Hapner scored 13 points and Ryan Roth had eight as Findlay improved to 6-3 overall, 4-1 in the TRAC and moved into a first-place tie in the league standings with Toledo St. Francis (9-1, 4-1) and Toledo St. John’s (8-2, 4-1).
Tuesday’s win was pivotal as far as momentum goes with the Trojans heading into a “Titan-ic” weekend of road games at Toledo St. John’s on Friday and at unbeaten (10-0) and No. 3-ranked (Division II) Ottawa-Glandorf on Saturday.
Toledo Central Catholic’s basketball roster still includes the names of some outstanding athletes, including Michael Warren, Ohio’s Mr. Football, and James Hudson III, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound lineman who will play college football at Michigan.
Neither athlete is still with the team, opting instead to focus on preparation for their college football careers.
Still, first-year TCC coach TJ Hunt brought an aggressive, athletic, poised and prepared group to Findlay that led by a point after the first (14-13), second (26-25) and third (40-39) quarters and was up 42-39 after Dajon Triplett connected on two free throws to open the fourth period.
Nunn pushed Findlay ahead with a basket and two free throws, and Hapner made it 45-42 when he got free under the basket and scored.
TCC got within one when Ryan Christie scored, but Findlay made it a two-possession game with 3:40 on the clock when Ryan Roth hit the front end of a 1-and-1, and Nunn sliced across the lane, grabbed the second-shot miss and scored. Hapner’s two free throws made it 50-44 with 2:35 to play.
Triplett missed a break-away dunk, but atoned for the miss by hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key and completing a 4-point play after being fouled on the attempt. After Hapner and Roth traded free throws with Christie, Triplett tied the game with a driving lay-up with 32 seconds left.
Findlay called time out with 27 seconds on the clock to set up the final play, then held the ball until Nunn took off on his game-deciding drive.
“One more bucket, one more stop, the ball bounces one way or another, that’s how it was,” Hunt said.
“We were in it right ’til the end, but they got the ball to their best player, one of the best players in the league, a great athlete. I thought we had good defense. We held him to a 15-, 16-footer, and his shot was to the right a bit. But he has a shooter’s touch, it caught the rim and he got the roll.”
Triplett, a 6-1 senior guard, led Toledo Central Catholic (3-5, 1-3 TRAC) with 17 points and seven rebounds. Victor Copeland added eight points, Christie seven and Darius Johnson and James Harris III six each.
“Our kids did exactly what we wanted them to. We asked them to compete, and from the opening tip to the final buzzer, doggone it, they did,” Hunt said. “Our fans are driving miles to see the game, they’re paying for a ticket, and we want to give them something to be proud of. We’re still trying to find an identity, a brand, and I think we’re getting close.”
“They did some things a little better than we did,” Rucki said of the Trojans, who committed just two turnovers but were outrebounded 32-20.
“But we made enough good plays, enough good plays to pull it out. We’ll need a better performance to give ourselves a chance on Friday, but it’s a good win, and any win in this league is a good win.”
TOLEDO CENTRAL CATHOLIC (3-5, 1-3 trac)
Christie 2-7 2-2 7, Fields 0-1 0-0 0, Harris 3-6 0-1 6, Triplett 6-13 3-3 17, Little 0-2 0-0 0, Grombach 0-1 2-2 2, Johnson 3-5 0-0 6, Copeland 3-6 2-2 8, Sulaica 1-1 0-0 2, Marshall 1-2 2-2 4. TOTALS: 19-43 11-12–52.
FINDLAY (6-3, 4-1 trac)
Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Roth 2-5 2-4 8, K. Nunn 7-16 6-6 21, Hapner 3-6 7-8 13, R. Nunn 2-7 0-4 4, Logsdon 0-2 2-2 2, Gutting 1-1 1-2 3, Schumm 1-1 1-2 3. TOTALS: 16-39 19-24–54.
Toledo Central Catholic 14 12 14 12 — 52
Findlay 13 12 14 15 — 54
3-Point GOALS: Toledo Central Catholic 3-10 (Johnson 0-1, Christie 1-4, Copeland 0-1, Triplett 0-3, Marshall 0-1); Findlay 3-12 (Miller 0-1, Logsdon 0-1, Roth 2-5, K. Nunn 1-1, R. Nunn 0-4).
REBOUNDS: Toledo Central Catholic 32 (Triplett 7, Harris 7); Findlay 20 (Hapner 6, Schumm 4).
TURNOVERS: Toledo Central Catholic 10, Findlay 2.
junior varsity: Toledo Central Catholic, 54-35.
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