By DAVE HANNEMAN
Findlay will be trying to do what no other Three River Athletic Conference team, and only four highly ranked teams overall, has been able to accomplish this season when the Trojans host league-leading Toledo St. John’s Friday at the FHS Gymnasium.
“They have a really nice team,” Findlay coach Jim Rucki Tuesday after the Trojans dispatched Lima Senior 54-39.
“St. John’s has a skilled big kid (6-foot-9 senior Parker Ernsthausen), they have a Division I (college) guard (Anthony Glover, Jr.), they have guys who can come off the bench and make shots and guys who can come off the bench and knock down 3-pointers.
“They have the whole package.”
Findlay threw a bit of a scare into the Titans in a Jan. 3 matchup at St. John’s. The Trojans blitzed the Titans 23-13 in the third quarter but could not overcome a slow start in a 59-48 loss.
St. John’s led that game 15-4, 17-6 and 24-8 as Findlay went 1 for 6 from 3-point range and was 7 of 22 shooting in the first half.
“We shot the ball poorly and did not play well up there the last time,” Rucki said. “Hopefully we’ll come out with greater effort and greater focus, make some shots and give ourselves a chance to be in the game.”
St. John’s opened the 2013-14 season 0-2, a not-too-surprising start for a program that always plays a tough schedule and graduated a talented class that included Ohio’s Mr. Basketball Marc Loving.
Those first two losses were to Shaker Heights (14-4 and ranked No. 12 in the state) and No. 11-ranked Toledo Rogers (14-2). Since then, the Titans (15-4, 11-0 TRAC) have only fallen to No. 1-ranked Lakewood St. Edward’s (15-1) and No. 2-ranked Cincinnati Moeller (15-1).
In addition to their league win over Findlay, the Titans own a 62-59 overtime win over second-place Toledo Central Catholic (13-2, 8-1) and need a least two wins in their final three league games to clinch at least a share of second straight TRAC title.
Findlay, 14-4 overall, is 8-3 in league play after Tuesday’s win over Lima Senior. The Trojans struggled a bit for three quarters, but took control in the final period to win for the seventh time in eight games on their home floor.
“Our kids seem to feed off the energy of the crowd,” Rucki said. “With the storm, the snow, a lot of people couldn’t make it and there wasn’t a big crowd here.
“We didn’t seem to have a lot of energy early on. We’ll need to get off to a better start against St. John’s. We think we can play with them, but we have to have our ‘A’ game.”
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By DAVE HANNEMAN