By DAVE HANNEMAN
TOLEDO — Findlay High boys basketball coach Jim Rucki speaks often of the balance in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference and the dangers of playing underdogs on the road.
Toledo St. Francis emphatically drove that point home Friday night.
With no returning starters, only three lettermen on the roster and obviously rebuilding under its fourth head coach in four years, St. Francis put an 0-7 record up against Findlay’s 5-2 slate Friday.
The Trojans needed a game-ending 10-3 run in the final five minutes, though, to escape with a 42-35 league victory.
“Luckily, we kept our composure enough to get the job done,” Rucki said.
“The first thing we told the guys (after the game) was that we got a win. There are a lot of things we can learn from this game, and it’s nicer to learn those things from a win instead of a loss.”
Findlay led 7-3 five minutes into the game and 23-18 late in the second quarter. But the Trojans couldn’t put it away until the final 90 seconds.
St. Francis tied the game twice in the fourth quarter, at 30-30 on a basket by 6-foot-5 senior Jay Snell, then 32-32 when substitute Joe Eid connected.
After milking over two minutes off the clock, Joseph Davidson hit a baseline jumper to put Findlay up 34-32 with 2:47 to play.
After St. Francis turned the ball over on a traveling call, Davidson scored again, then came up with a steal that led to Adam Twining’s dunk off an out-of-bounds play.
Michael Clark and Austin Gutting converted one-and-one opportunities in the final 22 seconds to cap a 10-0 run by the Trojans. St. Francis junior Lamar Carswell tossed in a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin.
Gutting and Davidson both scored 12 points for Findlay. Clark and Twining had seven each.
Patrick Szenderski scored 10 points and Snell had nine for St. Francis.
Rucki wasn’t surprised by the competitiveness of St. Francis.
“They’ve lost to St. John’s (8-3), Central Catholic (5-0), Whitmer (7-1), Perrysburg (6-2) (Toledo) Start (5-3) … We told the guys they’ve lost to a lot of teams we might have lost to too if we played them,” Rucki said.
Rucki was surprised, however, with how effective St. Francis’ 1-3-1 zone pressure was against the Trojans.
“We thought they’d play zone. We worked against it this week but we did not execute well against it,” Rucki said.
“We were tentative. We made some careless turnovers. We got carried away with extraneous things instead of just playing the game.
“We let little things bother us, but we did a decent enough job defensively and made some key plays down the stretch.”
Friday’s win kept Findlay (6-2, 3-1 TRAC) in the thick of the league standings with Central Catholic (6-0, 3-0), St. John’s (9-3, 4-1) and Whitmer (8-1, 4-1), who also won league games on Friday.
Findlay hits the road today, taking a five-game winning streak to Defiance to face the Bulldogs (4-3) in a nonleague matchup.
In Friday’s opening game at St. Francis, Findlay’s junior varsity fell behind early and a late rally fell short in a 45-40 loss. Freshman Grant McKinniss scored 20 points for the Trojans (5-3).
FINDLAY (6-2, 3-1)
Miller 2-0—4, Clark 2-2—7, Twining 3-0—7, Davidson 5-2—12, Gutting 3-6—12, Gobrecht 0-0—0, Kairys 0-0—0. TOTALS: 12-10—42.
TOLEDO ST. FRANCIS (0-8, 0-5)
Szenderski 4-2—10, Beauch 1-0—2, Snell 3-2—9, Frankhauser 0-0—0, Eid 1-0—2, Calmes 1-3—5, Lankard 1-1—4, Carswell 1-0—3, Metzger 1-0—2. TOTALS: 12-8—35.
Findlay 10 13 7 12 — 42
Toledo St. Francis 12 8 8 7 — 35
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 2 (Clark, Twining); St. Francis 3 (Snell, Carswell, Lankard).
junior varsity: Toledo St. Francis, 45-40.