LIMA – Lima Senior brought Greg Simpson back to retire his number Saturday night.
Then Elida and Lima Senior recreated the feeling of the high-flying Simpson years in the early 1990s with a wild, thrill ride of a game that the Bulldogs finally won 86-80 in double overtime in front of a full house at Senior High.
Dakota Mathias scored 47 points, including six 3-pointers, to lead Elida (6-2). Marquevious Wilson had 19 points and Louis Gray scored 12.
Lima Senior (2-5) put five players in double figures, led by Jay Thomas with 18 points. Rico Stafford scored 12 points, Marquis Miller had 11 and Brady Allen and Ruben Flowers each scored 10.
“It was a heck of a basketball game. You talk about big shots and back and forth,” Elida coach Denny Thompson said.
“Outside of the realm of a great atmosphere, in a win with that kind of atmosphere there were tons of learning opportunities for our guys. You can’t simulate it, you have to experience it,” he said.
“I’m not surprised. I didn’t think either team was going to get away from the other one,” Thompson said.
Lima Senior led 27-23 at halftime and the game was tied 41-41 after three quarters.
The Bulldogs took a 59-53 lead with 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter on a drive to the hoop by Austin Allemeier. But Lima Senior ran off six unanswered points, including a 3-pointer by Allen as he was falling down, to send the game into overtime, tied 59-59.
Elida built a 74-70 lead with 23 seconds left in the first overtime, but an inside hoop by Flowers made it 74-72. After Mathias hit one of two free throws to make it 75-72, Marquis Miller nailed a 3-pointer with two seconds left to bring on the second OT.
The game was still tied, 80-80, with under two minutes left in the second extra session before Elida took control with free throws by Mathias, Allemeier and Wilson and a drive to the hoop by Wilson.
At halftime, Lima Senior retired the No. 3 of Simpson, a two-time Ohio Mr. Basketball.
The 6-foot, 1-inch guard scored 2,346 points from 1988-1992 in his high school career and was a McDonald’s All-American and a Parade Magazine All-American. His 57 points against Toledo Start on Feb. 1, 1992 is a Lima city record and he has the top seven scoring games in Lima Senior boys basketball history.
“It was a childhood dream of mine,” Simpson said about having his number retired. “I would go to the Lima Senior games and dream.”
Simpson, who was known for his flamboyant dunks, said he still can dunk. “But the only way I’ll do it is if my son asks me to do it,” he said.
Simpson wore No. 21 as a freshman and switched to No. 3 as a sophomore. He said he begged coach Paul Whitney for No. 3, but Whitney remembered it a little differently.
“It didn’t take long for me to figure out he could have any number he wanted,” said Whitney, who was at Saturday night’s game along with several of Simpson’s teammates.
Simpson, who lives in Columbus, said his reaction when notified of the honor, was “probably relief,”
“I was honored and just excited my family, friends, teammates and coaches were still available to share this moment,” he said.