LIMA –This time it wasn’t close.
Lima Central Catholic stretched its boys basketball winning streak over Lima Senior to five games over the last five seasons with a 79-43 win over the Spartans on Tuesday night at LCC.
The first four in the streak were dramatic, at times at least. But after struggling a little early, the Thunderbirds pulled away in the second half.
Martyce Kimbrough scored 24 points, Dantez Walton had 16 points, Xavier Simpson scored 13 and Tre Cobbs got 11 points for LCC (15-3). Jay Thomas led Lima Senior (7-11) with 11 points.
LCC is known for its guard play but it also got strong performances from its inside players. Jake Williams pulled down 10 rebounds and Walton and Cobbs had eight each to lead the Thunderbirds to a 39-21 rebounding edge. The Thunderbirds also were tough defensively inside.
“I thought our intensity and focus on the offensive boards was a key tonight,” LCC coach Frank Kill said. “We did a phenomenal job of outrebounding them and turning it into a transition game.
“We talked about being aggressive and how we had to come out aggressive. We really dominated the paint. I thought we contested every shot they took,” he said.
Lima Senior coach Shawn Allen also pointed to the inside as a key to the game.
“We didn’t keep them off the offensive glass, and we just kind of ran out of energy. We’ve played six games in about nine or 10 days,” he said.
“They’re a great team, and they played really well in the second and third quarters. We played well early but we started missing shots and didn’t keep them off the glass.”
After falling behind 10-4 in the game’s first three minutes, LCC came back strong to go up 36-23 at halftime.
The Thunderbirds caught up by the end of the first quarter at 18-18, then outscored the Spartans 18-5 in the second quarter, led by Kimbrough, who got 12 of his points in that quarter.
He scored eight straight points in two minutes, five seconds when LCC went from a 22-22 tie to a 10-point lead, 32-22, with 1:51 left in the first half. That streak started with back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by a lay-up on a break and a drive for another two points.
After Lima Senior pulled to within eight points, 40-32, in the first three minutes of the second half, LCC stretched it out with another run, outscoring the Spartans 12-2 during the next 2 ½ minutes.
Lima Central Catholic had won the last four years in a row in this series and six of the previous eight meetings before Tuesday night.
Each of the last four years before this season the Thunderbirds had a big team effort and some big individual efforts late in the game to come up with the win.
Last year, Tre’on Johnson scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and overtime when LCC came back from 10 points down after three quarters to win in overtime. Two years ago, Lima Senior was up by nine points going into the fourth quarter, but Johnson scored 10 points in the final eight minutes to lead LCC to a 63-57 win.
In 2011, LCC outscored Lima Senior 16-6 in the final 3 ½ minutes to win 66-58. And in 2010, LCC was three points down with 40 seconds to play before winning 69-67 on Desi Kirkman’s drive to the hoop in the final seconds.