BATH TOWNSHIP — Bath’s Colin Gossard’s early memories take him back to the swirling dust of a softball diamond.
From an young age, the Bath senior would follow his dad to weekend softball tournaments. So early on, Gossard developed a passion for baseball.
But now, after earning back-to-back trips to the basketball regional tournament, the 6-foot-3 Gossard has built a passion for basketball, as well.
Bath (20-4) will meet fellow Western Buckeye League team Defiance (21-3) in the Division II boys basketball regional semifinals at 8:15 p.m. Thursday at Bowling Green State University. Norwalk will play Vermilion in the 6:15 p.m. regional game.
This season Gossard is averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game. He’s shooting 51 percent from the field.
In baseball, he’s a pitcher/shortstop for the Wildcats, with a mid-80 mph fastball. Before the year started, he wasn’t thinking much about a college basketball career.
“Growing up, I was more baseball because my dad played softball and I always traveled with him,” Gossard said. “I thought that was the best thing ever. We would go to Cairo and traveling to various tournaments. I remember chasing home run balls. It was fun.”
But with the Wildcats’ basketball success, he now has more college options.
“For college, I’ll play either baseball or basketball,” Gossard said. “I haven’t made up my mind. Right now I have Bluffton and Defiance talking to me about playing basketball. Baseball, I’m also getting some looks. But right now during basketball season, I’m still focused on basketball.”
In Bath’s 53-51 district championship victory over Elida, Gossard led the Wildcats with 20 points, including three 3-pointers. After missing his first four free throws of the night, he hit 3 of 4 at the line in the final 1:25 to clinch the win. His two free throws with 1:25 left gave Bath the lead to stay, 52-51.
Gossard’s game has developed this year. He’s no longer simply a passer or a 3-pointer shooter. He now can score on pull-up jumpers and drives to the basket. His game has blended well with the team’s top scorer and long-range shooter Taren Sullivan.
Bath coach Doug Davis said Gossard’s season has attracted college scouts.
“He’s been a huge difference in our team,” Davis said. “Before we played in the summer, I’m not sure what the team was going to be like. But in the summer, Colin became more aggressive and was taking the ball to the basket. He was taking more of a leadership role, and that started in our first shootout at Bluffton. … Last year he did a lot of driving and distributed the ball to the other guys. He wasn’t looking to score much.”
Gossard is also one of the team’s top defenders and guarded Elida’s all-state player Dakota Mathias several times this year, including in the end of the district finals. It was Gossard who was on Mathias at the very end of the game in Bath’s diamond-and-one defense.
“Dakota’s a great player. You never know when he’s going to pull out,” Gossard said. “He makes crazy shots and when you focus on him too much, he finds the open guy. He’s a great player and probably the best player I’ve ever faced.”
Questions hovered around this year’s Wildcats at the start of the year. Graduation took the Rockhold twins, Logan and Conner, along with Cole Chambers, from last year’s regional finals team.
Bath got off to a 3-2 start this year before winning six in a row. It closed the regular season by winning eight out of nine, with the only loss a 66-62 decision at Elida.
“We lost a great group of seniors last year,” Gossard said. “We’re playing good basketball right now, finding the open guy and knocking down shots. Hopefully, we can keep it up. … It’s definitely a great feeling (to get back to the regional). Hopefully, we get there and bring home a championship.”