|Wildcats dispatch ’Dawgs out of boys tournament|
|Sunday, March 09, 2014 9:00 PM|
FINDLAY — The Elida boys basketball team was trying to do something that is very difficult to do in this day and age of parity: beat the same team three times in the same season.
This time, it was in the Division II District finals before a raucous, standing-room-only crowd at Liberty-Benton High School outside of Findlay.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Bath Wildcats turned the tables and eked out a 53-51 triumph.
Elida had won in its own Tip-Off Classic 54-46 to start the season and in the WBL matchup 66-62 at home Feb. 14.
Bath moves on to play Defiance at 8 p.m. Thursday in the regional semifinals.
Leading the Wildcats were a pair of seniors: 6-3 Colin Gossard with 20 (3 treys) and 6-6 Taren Sullivan with 12 (8 boards), 3 assists).
On behalf of the Bulldogs, 6-5 senior Dakota Mathias (8 rebounds, 5 assists) finished his Orange and Black career with 17, while fellow senior Louis Gray and sophomore Marquevious Wilson (6 caroms, 3 steals) added 14 each.
Elida (20-4) held a slim 42-41 lead to start the final period and when Gray hit a second-chance opportunity half a minute into the quarter, they led 44-41. With Bath using its diamond-and-1 defense, with a chaser on Mathias, the Wildcats came back to take the lead at 45-44 on two free throws by Sullivan at 5:32. That touched off a 4-minute spell of six lead changes and one tie. Wilson gave Elida its last lead — 51-50 — with a free throw at 1:44. Gossard hit two singles at 1:25 to give Bath the lead for good at 52-51.
After an Elida timeout at 1:17, Wilson missed a drive with just over a minute left. Dylan Burkholder (5 rebounds) got the board and Bath ran 30-plus seconds off the clock until Gossard was fouled at 29.2 seconds for the double bonus. He hit the second for a 2-point lead. After Elida’s last stoppage at 22.7 ticks, Elida coach Denny Thompson ran a set to try and get Wilson the ball on the block but Bath denied that and every time Mathias got the ball, he was doubled. Finally, with time running down and the crowd at a fever pitch, they got the ball to Gray on the left wing from 22 feet. He let fly with 3.0 ticks on the board and as the ball caromed high off the rim, Bath sophomore Andrew Renner tipped away the potential offensive rebound as time expired.
“We were trying to get Marquevious on the low block off a Dakota screen but we didn’t execute it very well. They pressured the ball and they did a nice job making Dakota get rid of the ball,” Thompson explained of the last play. “We ended up reversing the ball to Louis on the wing and it was a good shot; it was very similar to the one he made to beat Celina. It just came off his hand a little off.”
Bath coach Doug Davis pointed to his team’s defensive strategy.
“Our focus was on not letting Dakota beat us. Every time he got the ball in that sequence, we doubled him and forced him to give it up,” Davis explained. “When he gave it up, Colin was to try and deny him the ball back and force anyone else to beat us. I tell you what, though; from my angle, Gray’s shot was on-target but it drifted right at the end. It was a good look and fortunately for us, it didn’t go in.”
With an electric crowd from the start, the ’Dawgs gave their partisans more to cheer about in the early going. With Wilson (7 counters in the first) and Gray (2 triples) leading the way, Elida shot 9-of-16 in the opener (21-of-50 overall, 4-of-19 downtown, for 42%), including 3-of-6 trifectas, to take a 21-9 edge on a Gray transition trey from the right wing at 17 ticks. When Burkholder hit the 1st-of-2 free shots at 5.7 ticks, the score stood at 21-10, Elida.
However, as in the case with two evenly-matched teams and emotions at a high level, it’s difficult to maintain that level. Bath began to battle back in the second period behind a 10-point explosion by Gossard, including a pair of bombs. They downed 8-of-16 fielders in the canto (19-of-48 for the game, 7-of-17 long range, for 39.6%), including a torrid 4-of-6 beyond the arc. After a Mathias rainbow at the 7-minute mark gave Elida its largest lead of the game at 26-12, Bath mounted an 18-2 splurge to nab a 30-28 advantage on a 3-ball from the left corner by Renner at 2:22. When Mathias hit a tough 19-foot turnaround at 1:25, it was all even at 30 heading into the locker rooms.
“Bath beat us three times last year, including last year’s District title game. We talked about handling our emotions from the get-go; I felt in our first two games, we kind of let them get away from us,” Thompson said. “We came out with a lot of emotion today — I’ll take that start anytime — but it is hard to stay there over 32 minutes. Plus, once they went to their gimmick defense, we struggled adjusting to it, as we have all year when facing a new defense or one we hadn’t faced in a while. We stopped moving and we needed to get them moving again. We weren’t ineffective as much as not being as effective offensively.”
The message Davis kept giving his players was familiar.
“We had gotten down by 14 in our second meeting and came back within one, so we are more than capable of coming back. The kids kept their poise and composure and that was the key,” he added. “We told the players before the game to be ready for a 32-minute battle. At our timeouts, we simply told the players to get back on defense — we were giving up too many easy looks in transition in the first period — then keep them off the offensive boards and we’d be OK. We had Colin, Dylan and Hayden (Atkins) rotate on Dakota and gave them plenty of help, with Tarin at the top of the defense.”
After a more up-tempo pace in the first half, Bath employed its gimmick defense the second half and Mathias stuck to Sullivan on the other end (as he did most of the game) as the scoring pace slowed down. The teams combined for 8-of-23 shooting — four made fielders by each team — and there were three lead changes and three ties. When Gossard hit a trifecta from right of the key with 42 ticks to go, that accounted for the 42-41 scoreboard heading into the dramatic finale.
“I don’t know if this was a great game to watch or not but everybody left it all on the floor; there’s nothing left. I’m proud of the effort of my kids and theirs, too,” Thompson added.
Bath compiled the following stats: 8-of-15 free throws (53.3%); 31 boards, 10 offensive, as Atkins added six; six errors; and 12 fouls.
Elida concluded with: 5-of-8 foul shots (62.5%); 29 off the glass (8 offensive) as senior Chance Weitz added four; a mere five turnovers; and 15 fouls.
Hayden Atkins 2-0-5, Andrew Renner 3-0-9, Colin Gossard 7-3-20, Tarin Sullivan 4-4-12, Dylan Burkholder 1-1-3, Isiah Frazer 0-0-0, Trent Jones 2-0-4. Totals 12-7-8-53.
Clark Etzler 1-2-4, Max Stambaugh 0-0-0, Marquevious Wilson 6-1-14, Austin Allemeier 0-0-0, Louis Gray 5-2-14, Dakota Mathias 8-0-17, Chance Weitz 1-0-2. Totals 17-4-5-51.
Score by Quarters:
Bath 10 20 11 12 - 53
Elida 21 9 12 9 - 51
Three-point goals: Bath, Renner 3, Gossard 3, Atkins; Elida, Gray 2, Wilson, Mathias.
|Last Updated on Sunday, March 09, 2014 7:18 PM|