LIMA – What basketball team has a varsity roster of 15 players anymore?
A lot of teams struggle to fill the spots after the seventh or eighth man. But here is Lima Central Catholic’s boys basketball team with all the uniforms filled and all the chairs on the bench occupied.
What kind of team does that? One where great things are expected, and everybody wants to be a part of it.
LCC (23-3) lost in the Division III regional semifinals last season, a year after it was beaten in the Bowling Green regional championship game by Ottawa-Glandorf. A lot of people think the Thunderbirds could break through the Bowling Green barrier this season.
LCC coach Frank Kill is among them. He and his players put the goal of getting to Columbus on the table.
“Some would say it’s Columbus or bust this season. Being that we’re not in a conference anymore, it’s really what they’re shooting for. I think this team has the potential to do those things,” Kill said.
LCC is led by a senior playing the best basketball of his career who is surrounded by underclassmen playing older than their driver’s license, if they have one, says they are.
Senior guard Martyce Kimbrough, who averaged 13.4 points a game last season, opened with games of 28 points and 25 points in a pair of wins over Shawnee and Elida in the Tip-Off Classic.
Sophomore point guard Xavier Simpson dropped 21 and 25 points in those games, and sophomore post player Dantez Walton averaged 12 points a game on the opening weekend of the season.
Kimbrough is the only senior in the starting lineup and post player Jake Williams is the only junior. Sophomore perimeter players Tre Cobbs, Ethan O’Connor and Nick Taflinger, along with senior post Cory Stewart, will get the bulk of the playing time.
“Martyce is just playing with a lot of confidence, and he’s leading. He is the leader of this team right now,” Kill said. “There are two guys it is going to be hard to take off the floor – him and Xavier – because they’re such competitors on both ends.
“Between Xavier and Martyce, those are two guys who can take this team to another level,” he said.
And the Thunderbirds hope that level is in the 614 area code.