By DAVE HANNEMAN
TOLEDO — Toledo St. Francis seems to bring out the worst in Findlay High’s basketball team.
This time, though, there would be no last-minute salvation.
St. Francis turned the tide with a turnover-fueled rally in the second quarter, limited Findlay to 8 total points in the second half and stunned the Trojans 40-32 on Friday in a Three River Athletic Conference matchup.
Findlay, needing a win to stay in the race with league games on the horizon against Toledo St. John’s (10-0 TRAC) and Toledo Central Catholic (7-1 TRAC) fell to 7-3 in the TRAC. The Trojans are 12-4 overall.
“We just could not put the ball in the basket,” said FHS coach Jim Rucki.
“It was a close game, a one-possession game most of the second half. We played hard, but when you go 4 for 13 from the (foul) line and 4 for 20 from the 3-point line, you’re not going to win.”
St. Francis, just 4-20 last season and looking for a signature win to validate it’s progress this year, almost got it when the Knights came to Findlay in December. Aggressive and scrappy, St. Francis battled Findlay right to the end before coming up just short, 50-46.
In Friday’s rematch at St. Francis, the tables turned.
Findlay opened a 20-10 lead three minutes into the second quarter, and was still up 24-15 after Austin Gutting powered inside for a basket.
For the rest of the game, though, Findlay was colder than a polar vortex.
St. Francis ended the half on an 8-0 run, started when 6-foot-5 senior Jonathan Fankhauser got loose inside for a lay-in. Cat-quick, the Knights then capitalized on three straight Findlay turnovers. C.J. Fagan stole a pass and raced in for a lay-up, Lamar Carswell did the same, and Carswell picked off another pass, was fouled and converted both free throws to pull St. Francis within 24-23 at the half.
Evan Wheeler’s basket to open the third quarter gave St. Francis its first lead of the game, 25-24. Gutting answered for Findlay on a nice assist from Michael Clark, but it would be Findlay’s last lead of the night.
Findlay twice trailed by just four early in the fourth quarter after a basket by Gutting (10 points, 9 rebounds) and a free throw by Adam Twining. A Clark 3-pointer with just over two minutes left made it a one-possession game, 35-32.
Findlay had two chances to tie it or trim the deficit to one, but missed free throws and missed 3-pointers doomed the Trojans.
Andy Okuley’s free throw with 52 seconds made it a 4-point spread (36-32) and Carswell, who came off the bench to score a team-high 10 points for St. Francis (5-11, 3-7 TRAC), was 4-for-4 from the line in the last 30 seconds.
After taking a 24-15 lead in the second quarter, Findlay managed just one 3-pointer and three total baskets in the game’s final 19 minutes. The Trojans were 1-for-7 from the line in the second half, and missed the front end of three one-and-one’s in the fourth quarter.
“We played about as bad offensively as we can play,” Rucki said after Findlay’s lowest scoring night of the season.
“We have to put this behind us for now, because we have another game tomorrow. But there are certainly things we can learn from this, things we can work on to get better.”
Findlay heads south down I-75 today to take on Lima Shawnee in a nonleague contest.
In Friday’s opener, Trey Buford converted four free throws in the final 20 seconds and Kyle Nunn blocked a potential game-winning shot by St. Francis as Findlay’s junior varsity came away with a 45-44 win. Buford finished with 21 points and Joey Hammond scored 12 for Findlay’s reserves, 15-1 overall and 10-0 against other TRAC JV teams.
findlay (12-4, 7-3)
B. Miller 1-0—2, Niswander 1-1—3, Clark 3-0—8, Twining 2-1—6, Gutting 4-2—10, McKInniss 1-0—3, Gobrecht 0-0—0, Kairys 0-0—0. TOTALS: 12-4—32.
toledo st. francis (5-11, 3-7)
Metzger 3-0—6, Ellison 2-3—7, Wheeler 1-1—3, Lang 1-0—2, Fagan 1-0—2, Lankard 1-0—3, Carswell 2-6—10, Okuley 0-1—1, Fankhauser 2-2—6. TOTALS: 13-13—40.
Findlay 15 9 2 6 — 32
St. Francis 7 16 9 8 — 40
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 4 (Clark 2, Twining, McKinniss); St. Francis 1 (Lankard).
rebounds: Findlay 24 (Gutting 9).
turnovers: Findlay 10, St. Francis 17.
junior varsity: Findlay 45-44.