WAUSEON- The pressure defense of Bryan and a combined 42 points from Thomas Martin and Alex Thiel was enough to push the Golden Bears past Wauseon, 72-65, giving them a share of the NWOAL title on Friday.
With the defeat, the Indians are left out of the race as Bryan and Archbold each claim a share of the title.
“There are no moral victories. You lose a game like that and there is nothing you can say from a coaching standpoint that is going to make you feel better, but I did like the way we played,” Wauseon coach Chad Burt said of the loss.
Wauseon was only down 30-24 at the halftime break, but the Bears exploded in the third quarter, outscoring the Indians 18-8 and taking a 16-point edge into the fourth.
That burst was essentially the difference in the game as it created a hole that Wauseon could not climb out of.
“I think their (Bryan’s) preparation was good but I thought we were a little bit tentative. Especially when they got that lead you could just feel them bouncing off the walls and playing a little bit fast,” Burt explained.
The Indians were down 10-6 with 1:10 to play in the first quarter when Corry Byers converted a coast-to-coast hoop and Kris Boysel hit two free throws that tied the game at 10 heading into the second.
The two teams traded buckets at the beginning of the second until Kyle Rupp of Bryan broke a tie at 14 with a corner three. Then in a crazy sequence, Austin Schimmoeller missed his free throw on an attempt to cash in a three point play, but Martin was there for a put back that extended the Bear’s lead to seven, 21-14.
With 4:24 left until the break, Schimmoeller hit a triple to extend the Bears lead to 24-18 after four consecutive free throws by Boysel and Jacob Newlove got the Indians to within three.
Byers hit one of two at the line and Boysel scored inside around a bucket by Martin that reduced the Indians deficit from six down to five at 26-21. However, the Indians would add only three more before the break- one of two free throws for Byers and two from Newlove.
A bucket by Martin and a long deuce from Thiel put the Bears up 30-24 at the break.
Probably the biggest swing in the contest came with 4:25 left in the third when Thiel hit another long deuce for the Bears, then the Indians picked up a technical after arguing a foul of Byers on Martin, giving Martin four free throws that extended Bryan’s lead to 44-26.
The act of frustration was a sign that Bryan’s pressure that caused 18 Wauseon turnovers, was getting to the Indians.
“I thought we got a little bit tentative. You put a Martin and a Schimmoeller on the wings, their length on the wings and their ability to read and play basketball (it creates problems),” Burt said.
Boysel answered a bucket by Thiel, then Noah Castle hit two free throws after a one and done by Bryan. Sean Culler followed with a put back for the Bears and Boysel knocked in two from the charity stripe to make it 48-32 at the end of the third.
The two teams would go on to score a combined 57 points in the final stanza.
And even though Bryan staved off a couple early runs from Wauseon, the Indians led by Noah Castle simply refused to quit. The junior led all scorers with 33 points.
With 4:29 left in the contest, Castle scored, followed by one of two free throws by Schimmoeller that had the Indians down 14, 57-43.
Boysel hit two at the line and Castle scored over Thiel on the next possession to pull the Indians to within 10 with under four to go. He then reduced their deficit to nine, 60-51, with two free throws at the 2:27 mark of the fourth.
“It was a case where we had our backs to the wall. I thought he did a nice job of getting to the rim,” Burt said of Castle’s play. “It was a little bit of urgency (on his part) a little bit of desperation to be honest with you. But unfortunately when you dig yourself an 18-point hole, that’s just too much for us.”
It also did not help the cause that Martin and Thiel kept on scoring for the Bears. Case in point, Martin answered Castle’s free throws with a bucket over Newlove, then Thiel hit a baseline jumper to give Bryan a 64-53 lead with 1:48 left.
And even though the Indians got to within five with under a minute to go, the Bears went eight for 10 from the foul line in the final 42 seconds, including five of six from Martin that helped seal the victory.
Boysel added 17 points for Wauseon, while Martin paced Bryan with 28, and Schimmoeller added 15 and Thiel 14.
The Indians bounced back on Saturday with a 56-49 win at Rossford in a make-up game that gave them a final mark of 16-6 and 6-2 in the NWOAL.
They will now turn their focus to the Division II sectional at Anthony Wayne where they will play Napoleon tomorrow at 7 p.m. and if victorious, will have a rematch with Bryan Friday.
“Hopefully we get another shot at them next Friday, but we got a whole lot of work to do before we can do that,” Burt stated.