By Marc Tobias
FINDLAY —ŠWith just over six seconds remaining Celina’s Brian Geise was able to dribble the length of the floor and get off a last gasp three-point attempt in an effort to tie the Bull-dogs game against Lima Senior, but when his shot fell short it allowed the Spartans to escape with a 45-42 victory in the Division I district semifinal.
The Bulldogs had just pulled even seconds earlier when Joe Kanney buried a three-pointer from the right corner to knot the score at 42 apiece, but Travis Walton, the speedy Lima Senior point guard, was able to draw a foul with 9.2 seconds remaining in the game.
Walton then went to the line and sank both free throws to put the Spartans on top 44-42.
Celina then inbounded the ball and attempted to hit Tim Homan with a long pass, but Walton was able to intercept it thus forcing the Bulldogs to foul him once again.
This time Walton hit 1-of-2 from the line, converting the second and forcing Celina to go the length of the court with 6.2 seconds remaining.
The Bulldogs saw their upset bid fall just short when the game-tying three-pointer didn’t fall.
“I hope everybody understands what kind of effort our kids gave tonight,” said an obviously disheartened but proud Celina coach Mike Kanney. “Defensively, what did they have at the (first) quarter, three? Then at halftime it was 18-16. Against a team like Lima Senior, and you look down there and Marquette’s coach is watching him (Walton) as a junior tells you the caliber of kid that he is. Our kids did everything they possibly could do to win that game, and they had a great player step up and make some big shots and big free throws. I’m proud of our guys, they’ve had a great year and it took that kind of effort to beat Lima Senior and we just about did it.”
Celina executed its game plan to perfection as it didn’t allow the Spartans to roam free in the open court for easy transition buckets, which helped keep it a low scoring affair.
The Bulldogs defense was stifling at times, especially in the first half when it had a number of sparkling defensive plays.
Joe Kanney was able to rotate over and pick up a pair of codeging calls on Walton to get the Spartan in early foul trouble, and Scott Boley stripped away a would-be layup from Leonard Hutchins midway in the first quarter.
Senior didn’t score its first field goal until Leonard Hutchins scored with 1:21 to play in the opening quarter, unfortunately for Celina it also gave the Spartans a 3-2 lead.
Adam Tindall answered with a bucket roughly 30 seconds later, though, and Tim Homan scored on a putback with less than 20 seconds to play for a 6-3 Celina first quarter lead.
Boley was asked to check Walton the entire evening, and the senior couldn’t have defended the Spartans star much better.(Continued from page 1B)
Along with some help from his teammates, Boley held Walton to one point on 0-for-5 shooting from the field in the opening quarter.
Walton went into halftime with 10 points but on 4-of-11 shooting.
“He did a great job on him, we had Joe on McLellan and I thought both of those guys did a good job of not letting them get any real solid looks,” Kanney said.
Homan opened the second quarter with a reverse layup to put the ´Dogs up 8-3 at the 7:36 mark. That bucket also moved Homan into first place on Celina’s career scoring list.
Celina twice held a seven point lead in the second quarter at 10-3 and 14-7, but when Walton hit a three-pointer with roughly 40 seconds until halftime, it capped a 9-2 Spartans run that tied the game at 16.
Geise came up with a big momentum swinging play, though, as he chased down a loose ball and fired a quick high-looping turnaround shot that swished through the net at the buzzer to put the Bulldogs up 18-16 at the half.
Lima Senior finished by making 6-of-23 (26 percent) at the half while Celina was just a percent better by making 7-of-26.
“That’s what I wanted, for the game to be in the 40’s,” Kanney said. “It felt like we would have a chance to win if it was, but great effort by Lima Senior they handled their composure down the stretch and made some big plays.”
The second half was a dog fight, and Homan tied the game at 24 with two free throws at the 4:15 mark.
That’s when Walton started to catch fire as he made three straight baskets to put the Spartans on top 30-26.
Senior then had the basketball and could have played for one shot with roughly 35 seconds remaining in the third, but the Spartans tried to score and Walton picked up his fourth foul roughly 30 feet from the basket on a Celina fast break.
Boley then finished the third quarter with a buzzer beater of his own on an offensive stickback to pull Celina to within four points.
“I was starting to like the pace when we went up 30-24, and the game was going good,” said Lima Senior coach Mike Gaffney. “Then Walton got his fourth foul and it was like the air came out of it and they made a couple of shots and we couldn’t answer. Then it got to the fourth quarter and I had to put him back in, but by then it was a half-court game again.”
Tindall opened the fourth quarter with a three-point play to pull Celina within a point, and then the Bulldogs big man brought them all the way back with a baseline jumper to put Celina on top 35-33.
McLellan answered with a big three-pointer to put Senior back on top at 36-35.
Boley sank a free throw with 1:48 left to give a Celina a 38-37 lead. It would be Bulldogs last lead of the game.
The Spartans then hit 5-of-6 free throws to go up 42-39.
Lima Senior did an excellent job of slowing down Homan in the fourth quarter with its diamond-and-one defense. Homan did not attempt an official shot in the fourth quarter, although he did hit 3-of-4 from the line in the final quarter.
He finished by making 11-of-12 from the line for the game.
“We just played the diamond-and-one that we’ve played when we needed to stop somebody,” Gaffney said. “I put Chris (McLellan) on him to start, but then I felt Greg (Tyson) was a little bit taller a little bit bigger and we were fortunate they had a tough time getting him the ball.”
Walton wound up leading all scorers with 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting, while Homan finished with 19 points on 4-of-11 shooting to go with seven rebounds.
Homan finishes his career with 1,143 points.
Keith Jackson had a monster game defensively for the Spartans, as the 6-foot-8 made things rough inside all night for Celina with seven blocked shots, until his departure with five fouls with 3:00 left.
Tindall and Boley each finished their careers with seven point efforts.
Lima Senior moves on to Bowling Green University on Saturday to play Mansfield Senior who knocked off Sandusky 91-68.