It took overtime for Toledo St. John's to knock off Toledo Waite 41-37 in the City League playoff semifinal Tuesday night.
David Gatwood was on hand and has the details.
TOLEDO – Toledo St. John’s coach Ed Heintschel has produced many fine teams in his tenure. Teams that were fine tuned machines that executed methodically on both ends of the court and worked their way toward one easy victory after another.
This year’s team is not one of those.
Instead, this is a team that has had to work hard for every victory and, in the process, has looked ugly doing so. Last night, in their City League playoff semifinal game against Toledo Waite, the Titans did it ugly again by defeating Waite in overtime, 41-37.
“It gets uglier and uglier,” said Titans coach Ed Heintschel. “But, to these guys' credit, they've been playing grind-out games all year, and they find ways to win. It probably helps us defensively because they know they have to play good defense because the offense is so hard to come by.”
The Titans’ win was in doubt most of the evening. At halftime, if fact, there was considerable speculation about the last time the Waite boys and girls programs both appeared in the City League finals and when did two public schools last face each other in the finals. Things looked that badly for the Titans at halftime even though they only trailed by seven, 21-14.
The Waite coaching staff decided that playing a zone defense was the best way to defeat the Titans and they did not vacillate from this strategy all evening. The Waite zone completely shut down the Titans’ outside game as the three starting Titan guards scored only six points between them for the entire game. Unfortunately, the Indians were unable to stop Titan post player Tim Simmons.
Simmons, who was a quiet presence in the first half, exploded in the second half. His 20 points (16 in the second half) and 10 rebounds allowed the Titans to erase the Indians’ first half advantage and to eventually win the game in overtime.
“I knew we had to go after and get on every ball on the ground,” said Titan player Tim Simmons. “We had to get on every jump ball. We just had to go get it. We had to play with heart and emotion. That’s what our coach said at halftime. We must play with emotion so that is what we did.”
Despite the inspired play of Simmons, the Waite Indians still had a chance to win the game in regulation. With the score tied at 32-32 the Indians decided to hold the ball for the game’s final two minutes. St. John’s had fallen back into a zone defense and were content to allow the Indians to take the last shot. Surprisingly, Waite never called a timeout to set up a play and, when Waite guard Robert Jackson missed his off-balanced shot attempt, the game was sent into overtime.
“We were going to take a timeout,” said Waite coach Dave Pitsenbarger “and, real quick, I looked at the coaches. We didn’t do it the other night (in Waite’s win against Whitmer). They’re not coming out and doubling or anything. In hindsight I wish I had taken a timeout, maybe a set play, but, like I said they (St. John’s) wasn’t doing anything special. It looked like we were going to be able to turn the corner on them so we stuck with it.”
In the overtime the Titans struck first on Andrew Taylor’s lay-up. A lay-up by Simmons followed and the Indians were never able to come any closer than two points.
Tim Simmons’ 20 points led the way for the Titans. Fellow post player Tim Kynard added 11.
For the Indians, Khari Riley was the leading scorer with 14.