BOWLING GREEN — Bath is no longer living under the radar.
Tournament wins over co-Western Buckeye League champions Elida and Defiance will instantly push you into the spotlight.
On Thursday in the Division II boys regional semifinals, Bath trailed Defiance 49-46 with 30 seconds to go.
It certainly didn’t look good for Bath.
But coming up with clutch performances down the stretch were Bath’s 1-2, go-to combination of Taren Sullivan and Colin Gossard.
Sullivan hit a driving layup with 20 seconds to go to bring the Wildcats within 49-48.
Then, Defiance couldn’t get the ball inbounds and was called for a five-second violation with 17 seconds left.
“(After the timeout), we switched to (6-foot-6) Taren and put him on the ball,” Bath coach Doug Davis said of the key Defiance turnover.
And, finally, Gossard picked up his team’s 21st offensive rebound off a Sullivan miss and was fouled. When Gossard made both free throws with 7.7 seconds left, Bath left the Stroh Center with a 50-49 victory.
Bath (21-4) will meet Norwalk(26-1) for the regional championship at 3 p.m. today at BG’s Stroh Center.
It marks Bath’s second straight trip to the regional finals, as the Wildcats look for their first trip to state in boys basketball. Last year Bath lost to Columbus Bishop Watterson 57-47 in the regional finals.
The Wildcats shot only 35 percent against Defiance, while the Bulldogs hit 58 percent. But the huge statistic that jumped off the stat sheets was Bath getting 21 offensive rebounds to Defiance’s three.
Gossard also did a good job defending University of Northwestern Ohio-bound guard Trey Guilliam and holding him to 13 points.
For the game, Sullivan had 23 points, including 10 in the final quarter. Gossard scored 22.
Against Norwalk, Bath will be seeking more offensive contributors than Sullivan and Gossard. Sophomore Andrew Renner scored nine, with three 3-pointers, in the district title win over Elida.
Norwalk has set up residence in Division II this year after playing in Division I.
Last year Norwalk lost to Mansfield Senior 44-42 in the D-I district semifinals. In 2012, Norwalk went 23-1 and lost to Toledo Whitmer 40-32 in the D-I regional semifinals.
Norwalk is athletic, quick and likes to play in transition. The Truckers are coming off an 87-81 overtime victory over Vermilion. Most of the Truckers’ points came on drives to the basket or within 10 feet. They were 2 of 8 on 3-pointers.
Norwalk’s top scorer is 6-5 forward Jeff Thomas, who is headed to Georgia State. Thomas can score all over the floor, but likes to set up in the paint. In the semifinals, he hit 10 of 14 from the field and was 2 of 3 on 3-pointers. He also hit 10 of 10 at the foul line for a team-high 32 points. Thomas also led the team with 12 rebounds.
Norwalk also has 6-1 point guard Ben Haraway, who is headed to Malone. Picture former Lima Central Catholic point guard Desi Kirkman and you get the idea of his game. He’s a lightning-quick slasher, who has various nifty moves to the basket, and scored 25 in the regional semifinals.
“They put a lot of points on the board,” Davis said. “They get up and down the floor. They have a lot of similarities with us. They have two top scorers, like we do. They like to get out and trap and pressure you when they get the chance. We’re going to get up and down with them, but I don’t think it’ll be in the 80s like tonight’s (Norwalk game).”
LCC vs. O-G
Here we go with Lima Central Catholic (21-4) against Ottawa-Glandorf (16-10) in Round 2. Only this time it’s for the Division III regional championship at 7 p.m. today at BG.
The two teams met Dec. 15 at LCC, with the Thunderbirds rolling to a 64-44 victory.
The game matches LCC’s quick backcourt of Martyce Kimbrough and Xavier Simpson against the inside game of O-G’s 6-7 Noah Bramlage, the lone returning starter from last year’s state championship team.
Kimbrough scored 18 points in the 64-37 steamrolling of Worthington Christian in the regional semifinals. He also scored his 1,000th career point. Simpson had 14 points, seven assists and four steals. Tre Cobbs had 13 points and came up huge in the first half with three 3-pointers.
O-G has rallied around point guard Alex Schroeder, who is averaging 9.6 points. Schroeder’s job is to make sure Bramlage (17.7 points, 8.4 rebounds) gets plenty of touches.
In O-G’s 63-45 regional semifinal victory over Huron, Bramlage had 19 points and nine rebounds. Zach Kuhlman had 14 points and eight rebounds. Tyler Zender had 12 points.