BATH TOWNSHIP — With just two returning letter winners back from last year’s squad, first-year Bath boys basketball coach Shawn Allen is searching for the right combination of players to put out on the court.
Despite suffering a 59-46 loss to visiting Celina on Friday, Allen started to see glimpses of what he’s been searching for.
Bath kept it close throughout the first three quarters.
However, a 9-0 run by Celina (4-1, 1-0 Western Buckeye League) to open the fourth quarter enabled the Bulldogs to pull away for the Western Buckeye League victory.
Bath (1-3, 0-1) led 35-34 at the end of the third quarter.
Celina then opened the fourth stanza with a 9-0 run and eventually pulled out to the 13-point lead. The Bulldogs made 8-of-9 of their shots from the field in the final period. Most of Celina’s looks came inside the paint as the Bulldogs got out into transition often.
“Our kids’ effort was great,” Allen said. “I thought we rebounded well. I thought we got great shots. But, we’re still trying to find everybody’s rotation and everybody’s role; and trying to find out how many we’re going to play.
“Even though we have a couple returners, those guys have jumped into different roles. So, now they have jumped into different roles and the guys behind them have jumped in and filled their roles. So, I’m happy at the way they played.”
Celina had three players score in double figures. Grant Laffin led the way with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. Laffin also had eight rebounds and two steals.
Ryan Hoyng scored 16 points, with eight of those points coming in the first quarter. Hoyng also pulled down eight rebounds and made four steals at the defensive end. Caleb Hoyng added 10 points, three assists and two steals for Celina.
Andrew Renner led Bath with 20 points, including three 3-pointers. Renner also ripped down eight rebounds and made five steals. Chase Clark scored 15 points and had three boards for the Wildcats.
Celina led 17-15 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter also was nip-and-tuck as the Bulldogs slipped into the halftime break with a 29-25 lead.
Bath pressured Celina into eight turnovers in the third quarter, which helped pave the way for a one-point lead for the Wildcats by the third stop.
“I think they (Bath) did get a little tired, but I tell you what; you have to give them a lot of credit,” Celina coach Chris Bihn said. “They battled hard. They played hard. They played smart. There were some 50-50 balls out there they went and got, that I thought they wouldn’t get to. So, as tired as they were, they battled through. They did a nice job.”
Laffin got busy in the fourth quarter for Celina, scoring 12 of his team’s 25 fourth-quarter points.
For the game, the taller Celina squad held a slight 27-26 edge on the boards.
Bath shot 37 percent from the field. Celina ended the night shooting 53 percent from the floor.
“I think that’s the best we’ve played yet,” Allen said. “You have to understand, that when you have inexperienced guys, you got to put them out there and they got to get experience. We were up at the end of the third quarter, but I thought we were a little gassed. We turned it over 18 times (for the game). …You can’t do that. (That’s) 18 times that you don’t get any points. But, I think it’s inexperience against experience.”
Bihn added, “This has always been a tough place to play. I think any place in the WBL is a tough place to play. I think we came in and did some uncharacteristic things. On our outlet passes, I think we had three turnovers on those, which we usually don’t have. It’s a mental thing that you have to fight through. I thought our guys took a little bit of time, but I think they finally got through it and we played better in the second half.”