ELIDA – Veteran basketball teams find a way to close games out.
Such was the case in Thursday’s Western Buckeye League matchup between Wapakoneta and Elida in girls basketball.
Elida, who has just one senior playing significant minutes, had Wapakoneta on its heels in the second half at the Elida Fieldhouse.
However, the Redskins battled back after a lackluster third quarter and slipped out with a dramatic 47-46 victory, on a 3-pointer from senior Nicole Brown in the final seconds of the game.
Brown, a senior 3-point specialist, led Wapakoneta (4-3, 2-0 WBL) with 12 points, including three shots behind the arc.
However, Brown’s final 3-pointer of the night was the most important one of all.
It came off an inbounds pass with 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation. Amy Hume triggered the inbounds pass to an open Brown, who was standing a few feet beyond the 3-point line on the right wing. Brown caught the pass and then sank the long-range shot, giving the Redskins the one-point lead.
Elida (4-2, 1-1) attempted to get the ball down the court on the ensuing inbounds pass, but could not get a shot off as time ran out.
“I was a little freaked out, but when it went in, I was excited,” Brown said. “I got a good screen from my teammates, got open and I was able to make the shot.”
After Wapakoneta slipped into the halftime break with a 30-26 lead, Elida then came out in the third quarter and went on a 12-0 run to take a 38-30 lead. The Bulldogs’ defensive pressure helped cause five Wapakoneta turnovers in the third quarter. The Redskins made just 2-of-11 shots from the field. Elida led 38-34 at the end of three quarters of action.
“We’ve talked about this. This is like game 4 for us to come out and not be ready in the third quarter,” Wapakoneta coach Rusty Allen said. “Tuesday night against Allen East, we had eight turnovers in 12 possessions. So we kind of had a little different approach coming into halftime, tonight.
“We wanted to change things up. But, we stayed focused in that fourth quarter. We began to chip away. Then, when got No. 5 (fifth foul) on (Elida’s O’sha) Owens, I called a timeout and told them that we still have our work cut out for us. I thought our girls responded well. They stayed focused and we executed plays down the stretch.”
Owens led all scorers with 24 points. The senior guard also had four rebounds and two assists to lead the Bulldogs.
Unfortunately for Elida, Owens was forced to watch the final two minutes and nine seconds from the bench because she fouled out.
“She is the senior leader,” Elida co-head coach Chrissy Billiter said. “She’s been here for four years and knows what it’s all about. These girls are not used to being in this type of situation. But, we’ll be alright.”
Added Elida co-head coach Elise Jenkins, “They just have to be confident when they are out there. We believe in them. …They just have to start believing in themselves.”
Kyle Downton added 10 points, six rebounds and two steals for Elida.
Along with Brown scoring in double figures for Wapakoneta, Annie Henderson and Erin Schnell added 11 and 10, respectively.