ELIDA — The biggest reaction from the crowd during Elida’s 72-41 boys basketball win over Kenton on Friday night at the Elida Fieldhouse came with less than a minute left in the first half.
There were two reasons for that, both of them obvious.
When Elida went up by as many as 41 points in the second half in a dominating performance, the crowd turned down the volume.
The bigger reason for that first-half eruption, though, was that Elida junior guard Dakota Mathias became the eighth player in Bulldogs boys basketball history to score 1,000 points in his career.
A layup on a breakaway got Mathias over 1,000. He finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to lead Elida (10-6, 5-0 Western Buckeye League) over Kenton (9-5, 2-3 WBL).
Aric Thompson had 13 points and Louis Gray scored 12 for the Bulldogs, who shot 50 percent, hit seven 3-pointers and forced 23 Kenton turnovers. Matt Bahr led Kenton with 10 points.
“I knew it was coming. People had been telling me all week I was only 11 away. It was in the back of my head,” Mathias said. “It was good to get it.”
Mathias matched his older brothers Dustin and Bo, who also scored more than 1,000 points in their careers at Elida.
“That’s really cool. Both my brothers got it. It was cool to be in a club like that with my brothers, Drew Adams, Jim Baxter…It’s great company,” he said.
“They said soak it in, it’s a great experience, it’s something you’ll never forget.”
Kenton probably would have preferred to forget the whole evening after the first quarter.
Elida led only 13-11 after the first eight minutes, but from the start of the second quarter until 3 ½ minutes were left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs outscored the Wildcats 40-7.
Elida had a 36-16 halftime lead and was up 63-22 after three quarters before Kenton got almost half of its points in the fourth quarter.
“We needed a game like this where we got everybody moving and involved,” Elida coach Denny Thompson said. “What concerned me most was their big guys taking it to us down inside. I thought we did a pretty nice job of bringing bodies to their guys and limiting their quality touches.
“To go into a game where that was the game plan and do what we were supposed to do, that’s a nice win,” he said.
Elida’s 50-percent shooting included 7 of 19 from 3-point range.
“I’ve said all along our guys are capable shooters. They have to continue to feel more comfortable and relaxed. We’ve got 16 games in now. It’s not like they don’t have experience but it is their first year at the varsity level,” Thompson said. “They have to continue to step up and score for us.”
Elida’s win kept the Bulldogs in a three-way tie for the Western Buckeye League lead with Bath and Ottawa-Glandorf.
The next two games for Elida, tonight at Toledo Central Catholic and at home against O-G next Friday, will be against state-ranked teams.