Led by future Michigan Wolverine Xavier Simpson, the Lima Senior High School boys basketball has turned back its opponents in all 28 games this season.
And with a few exceptions, none of the games have been close.
Lima Senior will put its unbeaten season on the line 5:15 p.m. Friday against Wilmington in one of the semifinal games at the Div. I Ohio State Boys Basketball Championship at Value City Arena.
“Lima Senior has maybe the best point guard in the state in Xavier Simpson,” WHS head coach Michael Noszka said. “They are extremely athletic and tough at all their positions. They have Div. I athletes whether it be football or basketball. They like to press and score off their defense. I would compare them to Wayne for their physical toughness.”
In the other semifinal game it’ll be a rematch of last season’s semifinal round with Garfield Heights facing Westerville South. Westerville South won that game 60-57 before losing to Huber Heights Wayne in the title game.
A year ago, Lima Senior lost to Lakewood St. Edward 50-42 in the Div. I Akron Regional title game.
The Spartans haven’t lost since that March 19, 2015 game.
“The season’s been fantastic; it’s been a lot of fun,” said Senior head coach Quincey Simpson. “The guys have done things on and off the floor that we as a staff have asked of them.”
Simpson said his team’s six-game tournament run has been “challenging for us. That’s the way it should be.”
Senior is outscoring its opponents by an average of 23 points (76 points to 53 points) this season.
Toledo St. John’s lost to Lima Senior 67-66 in the opening game of the year. The two had a rematch for a district championship with Lima senior coming out on top in a vastly different game 34-33.
The only other close score was a 54-52 win over Lima Central Catholic, who is in the Div. III state semifinals along with Lynchburg-Clay.
“It’s definitely a blessing for the city of Lima to have two teams in Columbus,” said the Lima Senior coach. “Actually, we are having lunch together now. We are very, very close with the LCC community.”
Xavier Simpson, a 6-0 senior point guard, is averaging 27 points per game this season on 51 percent shooting. He averages 6 assists and almost 4 steals per game for the Spartans. He made 59 of 163 three-point attempts. Simpson led Lima Central Catholic to the Div. III state championship in 2014 before transferring to Lima Senior.
“Our No. 1 priority on defense is to stop the ball,” Noszka said. “When Simpson has the ball in his hands, that challenge rises. You have to stop him and get him contained. You can’t let him get into the heart of your defense or he’ll reek havoc.”
Quincy Simpson coached Wilmington’s Jarron Cumberland in AAU basketball this past spring for the Kings James program.
“All our guys know him,” Simpson said. “Jarron is tough. He is the best scorer in the state. His confidence is extremely high. We had a great AAU team before he came. When he came, we went from great to elite.”
Other numbers for Lima Senior are:
• Marquevious Wilson 11 points, 54-114 3-point shooting, 42-51 free throws, 4 assists, 2.5 steals.
• Jarius Ward 10 points, 140-181 free throws
• Rico Stafford 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
• Jaylin Thomas 9 points
• Ruben Flowers 7 points, 6 rebounds, 1.4 blocks
As a team, Lima Senior is shooting 48 percent from the floor, including 35 percent beyond the arc, and 64 percent from the free throw line.
Both Wilmington and Lima Senior have slowed their scoring pace in the post-season. Each team’s scoring average is just more than 60 a game in the post-season, after scoring more than 70 points game in the regular season.
“The tournament is more of a defensive, possession type game,” coach Simpson said.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.