LUCAS — They duked it out in early January and they’ve been on a collision course ever since.
Top-seeded Lucas and No. 2 South Central square off for the Division IV Willard district title at 7 p.m. Friday at Robert L. Haas Gymnasium. The Cubs (24-1) beat the Trojans (21-3) 70-54 at the Cub Cave on Jan. 7.
“That was a long time ago,” Lucas senior Logan Niswander said after the Cubs dispatched Sandusky St. Mary 72-61 in overtime in the district semifinals earlier this week. “We’re a different team and I’m sure they’re a different team, too.”
Niswander became the program’s career scoring king in the win over SMCC, scoring 25 points to give him 1,310 career points. Junior Riley Gossum, who will likely inherit the scoring crown from Niswander next year, added 18, while the unheralded Ethan Sauder scored 19.
“I’ve talked a lot this year about Riley and Logan scoring, but I’m telling you Ethan Sauder is an offensive weapon,” Lucas coach Taylor Iceman said. “You don’t see it a lot and he doesn’t have to do it a lot, but we are a three-headed monster offensively.
“Sometimes he doesn’t look for his shot as much as he needs to, but he is a capable scorer.”
South Central won the district title last year and put itself in a position to defend its crown with a 47-36 win over Firelands Conference rival Norwalk St. Paul in the district semifinals. The Trojans and Flyers split a pair of regular season meetings.
Simon Blair scored 16 points, while David Lamoreaux added 10.
Lucas did an admirable job on both Blair in the first meeting, limiting the speedy senior point guard to 13 points.
“Like I said before, we know what we’re up against,” South Central coach Brett Seidel said. “Lucas is a load. It’s a tall task for anybody.
“Lucas is a different animal. We know we’re up against it.”
Four of Lucas’ five starters were key pieces of the Division VII state runner-up football team. Lucas fell to Marion Local in the state finals in early-December.
“Once you play in a state championship game, you don’t really get nervous for much anymore,” Niswander said. “Basketball is a little different, but we’ll do our best to approach it like any other game.”
So will the Trojans.
“They are a good team and we’re going to have to play great,” Lamoreaux said. “We’ve got to play better offensively.
“It’s going to be a full 32-minute game. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”