By DAVE HANNEMAN
Austin Gutting is built more like a linebacker than what many consider a basketball post player to be.
Turns out, that was just what Findlay High’s boys basketball team needed Saturday night.
“His muscle gave us trouble all night,” Lima Bath coach Doug Davis said after Gutting, a 6-foot-3, 236-pound junior, scored 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in leading Findlay to a 64-54 win over the Wildcats in the championship game of the Holiday Hoops Tournament at Findlay High.
Adam Twining added 16 points and six assists as Findlay ended the 2012 portion of its schedule with a 5-2 record and the tournament title.
“It was a good win, and a good way to end the year,” said FHS coach Jim Rucki.
“There’s still a long way to go, and there are lots of things we can still improve on. But we’re going in the right direction.
“We’re going to give the kids two days off, and hopefully they’ll come back with their batteries charged for the last two months of the season.”
Scrappy, deep and balanced, Lima Bath plays basketball like they are either on fire or heading to one.
Findlay got burned a few times by Bath’s aggressive, trapping defense. But the Trojans also made some outstanding passes — mostly to Gutting underneath — to maintain the upper hand.
“We knew we were going to have turnovers (14),” Rucki said. “The key is you have to get some easy baskets out of it too, and we were able to do that.
“With all of their trapping and their pressure, we ended up doing what we call ultimate basketball. You just have to keep flashing to the ball, make the next pass, and hopefully somebody can get open under the basket. A lot of times, that guy was Austin.”
Davis entered this season with a 65-107 career record at Lima Bath. But he guided the Wildcats to a record-tying 16 wins a year ago, and he may have the team to break that mark this season.
“We have a group of kids who, in middle school, enjoyed playing basketball and have kept with it,” Davis said. “They put in the time and effort, especially in the summer, and it shows.”
Findlay trailed only once, but the Trojans could never relax until the final minute.
A 3-point play by Taren Sullivan, a talented 6-4 junior with the ability to go inside or launch a “3,” put Bath on top 11-10 with 2:22 left in the first quarter. Sullivan, who led Bath with 21 points, later nailed a 3-pointer, then had the assist on a basket by Tyler Baxter that trimmed Findlay’s lead to 26-25 late in the second period.
In the frantic final seconds of the half, Joseph Davidson answered for Findlay, then tipped away a Lima Bath pass as he was flying out of bounds. Twining corralled the ball near the Bath foul line, then took off on a race against the clock, soaring in for a slam dunk as the buzzer sounded.
Bath trimmed that 30-25 halftime deficit to 32-30 after opening the third quarter with another 3-pointer by Sullivan and a transition basket by Conner Rockhold. But Findlay was adapting to the Wildcats’ pressure and finding Gutting more and more often underneath. The junior forward scored eight points (and had seven rebounds) in the third quarter, and added nine points in the fourth.
“Our guys did a great job of finding me open, especially the press passes,” Gutting said.
“(Lima Bath) likes to trap a lot, so my guy would rotate out. Our guys kept their heads up, so when I was able to get open we were able to get some easy baskets inside.”
No lead seemed safe, though, against a Bath team able to score from anywhere on the floor.
“I’ve had teams like that in the past, where everybody is a guard. They are tough to match up with,” Rucki said.
“When teams are built around getting quick turnovers and with five guys out there who can shoot the ‘3,’ a nine-point lead with a minute to go isn’t like a nine-point against other teams.”
Findlay got a big boost, though, from one of the smallest players on the floor.
Leading just 49-44, Findlay missed two chances to pad the lead. Braden Miller got two offensive rebounds, though, then fed Gutting for a basket to pad the lead back to seven points (51-44).
“He’s active,” Rucki said of his 5-8 junior guard, who had six rebounds in Friday’s win over Toledo Waite.
“We talk a lot about second-touch rebounds, those rebounds that go off somebody’s hands. It doesn’t matter how big you are. If you pursue the ball, you can get it.”
Tiffin Columbian won the consolation game of the tournament, beating Toledo Waite 76-61 in Saturday night’s opener.
Findlay’s junior varsity also won its division of the Holiday Hoops Tournament, rallying from a 10-1 deficit in the first quarter and a six-point deficit in the second to beat Lima Bath’s reserves 67-56 Saturday afternoon. Joey Hammond scored 24 points and Chase Miller had 20 for Findlay’s JV, also 5-2 on the season.
LIMA BATH (7-2)
C. Rockhold 3-7 0-1 6, Chambers 1-5 0-0 3, L. Rockhold 5-11 0-0 12, Gossard 0-4 1-2 1, Sullivan 8-16 1-1 21, Atkins 1-1 0-0 2, Sanders 2-3 0-0 5, Baxter 2-2 0-0 4. TOTALS: 22-49 2-4—54.
Miller 2-3 0-0 5, Clark 0-3 3-4 3, Twining 7-11 2-2 16, Davidson 2-8 2-4 6, Gutting 13-19 4-5 30, Niswander 0-0 0-0 0, Gobrecht 0-0 0-0 0, Kairys 2-3 0-1 4. TOTALS: 26-46 11-16—64.
Lima Bath 13 12 10 19 — 54
Findlay 16 14 13 21 — 64
3-Point GOALS: Lima Bath 8-24 (C. Rockhold 0-1, Chambers 1-3, L. Rockhold 2-5, Sanders 1-2, Gossard 0-01, Sullivan 4-12. Findlay 1-6 (Miller 1-2, Clark 0-2, Twining 0-1, Kairys 0-1).
rebounds: Lima Bath 19 (Sullivan 5, L. Rockhold 4); Findlay 34 (Gutting 14, Davidson 6, Twining 4, Miller 4).
turnovers: Lima Bath 12, Findlay 14.