SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Dakota Mathias came into the game at Shawnee averaging 28.1 points per game, and the Indians were going to make sure he didn’t get that number against them.
He didn’t, but the Bulldogs still grabbed a 63-49 victory that moved them to 9-4 overall and 4-0 in Western Buckeye League play.
Shawnee came out in a triangle-and-two with both Thomas Nolte and Trey Brock guarding Mathias all over the court in hopes of denying him the ball.
That plan obviously would leave someone else open for Elida. But Elida’s 13-of-37 first half shooting effort would limit the Bulldogs’ halftime lead to 30-23.
“Dakota has been double-teamed before without the ball before but not to the extent that they did tonight,” Elida coach Denny Thompson said. “Our inability to make shots allowed them to be successful with what they were trying to do.”
The Indians (1-11, 0-4 WBL) tied the game twice in the third quarter before the Bulldogs ended the period on an 8-0 run to take a 50-42 lead to the final period. Shawnee got eight big points from Brock in the period.
“The bottom line is we are 1-11,” Shawnee coach Dick Heath said. “We had the lead and were tied twice in the third period and from then on they took control. We fought, scratched and clawed but the next step is to finish out.”
The Bulldogs went on to outscore Shawnee in the final quarter 13-7 margin to claim the win.
Elida dramatically improved its shooting in the second half as it connected on 15-of-27 from the floor for 55 percent.
The gimmick defense slowed down Mathias some but he still finished with a game-high 17 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for a nice triple double.
David Diller finished with 14 points and Louis Gray chipped in with 10 points for the Bulldogs.
“We gave them the thought that they were still in it with all those misses,” Thompson said. “Diller and Marquevious Wilson (six points) both gave us some good minutes tonight.”
The freshman Wilson was pressed into service because senior Ebin Stratton was ruled academically ineligible this week.
Shawnee got 11 points from three different players in the contest — Thad Vernon, Brock and Jay Thomas.
The Indians struggled from the field as they connected on only 20-of-61 from the field for 32 percent shooting for the game.
“We need to have some success and we must learn to play the last eight to 10 minutes of the game,” Heath said. “During the course of a game you are going to see scrambles for loose balls, and tonight we didn’t come up with one and those are possessions that give you a chance to score.”