ELIDA – It’s no secret that area basketball teams are going to focus on slowing down Elida’s Dakota Mathias.
The 6-foot-5 Purdue-bound Mathias can hurt opposing teams in many ways.
If Mathias has the opportunity to take it off the dribble, then he will. If he has a chance to shoot a 3-pointer, he will. And if he is double-teamed, he will find the open man.
On Friday, Mathias covered each area as he led the Bulldogs with 25 points, seven assists and three steals, en route to a 74-45 Western Buckeye win over Wapakoneta at the Elida Fieldhouse. Mathias was 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc.
Elida (4-2, 1-1 WBL) jumped out quickly on Wapakoneta (1-4, 0-1) and was never challenged.
The Bulldogs opened the game, shooting 7-of-10 from the field, pulling out to an 18-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. Marquevious Wilson jump-started Elida by scoring the first seven points. Wilson ended the night with 15 points, on 6-of-10 shooting.
In the second quarter, Elida helped force seven Wapakoneta turnovers as the Bulldogs pulled out to a 38-18 lead by the break. Elida went on a 14-2 run late in the second quarter.
Elida shot 60 percent from the field in the first half. Mathias accounted for 15 of those points.
By the end of the third quarter, Elida had stretched its lead to 54-25. Wapakoneta committed six turnovers in that eight-minute span. For the game, the Redskins turned the ball over 17 times. Elida committed just eight turnovers.
Elida’s largest lead was 65-29, with 5:15 left to play in the game.
“We were finally able to do some things that we wanted to do,” Elida coach Denny Thompson said. “We got Marquevious (Wilson) involved, and he was able to do some good things, early on. Our other guys – like (Austin) Allemeier (seven points), (Max) Stambaugh (five points) and (Clark) Etzler (two points, two steals) – did some good things too. We need to keep getting these guys involved more.”
Elida ended the game, shooting 59 percent from the floor. Wapakoneta ended the game shooting 44 percent.
The Bulldogs were 10-of-22 shooting from behind the 3-point line for 43 percent. Wapakoneta made just 1-of-8 on 3-pointers.
“It’s really important that we get the other guys involved,” Mathias said. “That way, when other teams target me, then they can step up and make a play.”
Sam Hinegardner led Wapakoneta with 11 points.
Wapakoneta lost a core of seniors from last year’s squad.
“I told the guys to take a look at this and remember what success looks like, because we’ll be back,” Wapakoneta first-year coach Doug Selvey said. “We still have some work to do, but we’ll be OK.”
After suffering a hard-fought one-point loss to Defiance in its WBL opener last week, Thompson stressed to his team to move on.
“We didn’t have much time to dwell on it. It was a tough loss. But, I told the guys we wanted to learn from it and not dwell on it,” he said.