Relief is the best way to describe his reaction.
“It was not pretty. It was not a good performance at all,” Rucki said. “We made mistakes and did not play well. But the most important thing is we won the game on the road. That isn’t easy in this conference.”
The Trojans (7-4, 4-1 GBC) overcame a bundle of turnovers and missed opportunities to hold off the Blue Streaks (5-7, 1-5), who came in having won four of their last six games.
Tied at 30-30 going into the fourth quarter, Luke Kraus jacked up a 3-pointer and nailed it on a night when he struggled from beyond the arc.
He missed the first four treys he took but came through when it mattered most. Kraus finished with 14 points, 12 of which came in a pressure-packed final period.
“He hit a big 3-pointer for us,” Rucki said. “We needed that shot. He played a pretty good game and came up big when we needed him.”
Matt Strzempka wasn't bad either, dropping in a game-high 19 points.
His first two baskets of the night staked FHS to a 4-0 lead and he deliverd late in the game as well.
With FHS clinging to a 41-39 advantage, Strzempka made a layup and drilled a jumper to push the Trojans’ lead to 45-39.
The Blue Streaks never recovered as they lost their 11th consecutive game to the Trojans.
“Matt ran the floor very well and got some easy baskets,” Rucki said. “We got him the ball and we probably could have gotten it to him a little more. I was pleased with his effort.”
Sandusky head coach Steve Keller Jr. felt good about his team's chances late in the game despite its early struggles.
“We struggled in the first quarter and got behind too quickly,” Keller said. “But I thought we did a good job of coming back. We were right there late in the game. We just
didn't make as many plays as Findlay did.”
This game was ugly from the start as both teams turned the ball over three times on their first three possessions.
Yet, the Trojans managed to show a little life on offense and jumped in front 8-0. They led 8-2 at the end of the first.
But the Blue Streaks turned up the heat on defense and began using their speed to their advantage, forcing turnovers that
led to clutch baskets.
Cole Prophet, who lit up FHS for 30 points in a 57-50 loss to the Trojans earlier this season, nailed a 3-pointer to push Sandusky ahead 15-14 with four minutes to play.
Free throws by Kevin Krucki and Kraus put FHS back on top 16-15 and the Trojans went into halftime with a 21-17 advantage.
FHS managed to stay a step ahead of the Blue Streaks in a sloppy third period until back-to-back shots by Dante Walk and Corey Gilbert tied the score at 30-30 heading into the fourth.
Martell Brown pumped in 13 points for the Blue Streaks. Prophet led the way with 17.
“We did a better job on Prophet this time,” Rucki said. “He’s tough to handle. He’s so quick and good with the ball.”
With the win, the Trojans stay in the hunt for the GBC title.
They are now tied for first place with Napoleon, a 65-62 winner over Lima Senior Friday.
The Trojans will play at Napoleon on Jan. 25.
For now, however, Rucki is focused on a pivotal GBC tilt with
Marion Harding on Thursday night in Findlay.
“This win over Sandusky was big for us and the Marion game will be big, too. We’re tied for first in the conference and now we have to evaluate our team and look at what we need to do to stay in the league race,” Rucki said. “Our destiny is in our hands.”