LIMA — Not much separates Elida and Van Wert.
In two games, the difference has been a total of three points.
But, in the end, Elida had Dakota Mathias on its side.
Mathias had 21 points and 14 assists and hit the key free throw to post a 65-64 double overtime victory over Van Wert in the opener of the Division II boys basketball sectional tournament Wednesday at Lima Senior.
In the second overtime, the game was tied at 64 with less than 10 seconds left when Mathias brought the ball up court. With two players on him for every dribble, Mathias drove within 15 feet, spun and tossed up an off-balance shot that missed, but he was bumped in the process.
Mathias made the first foul shot with 1.1 seconds left to give Elida a 65-64 lead. Mathias missed the second shot intentionally, but Van Wert got the rebound. After a timeout, Van Wert’s A.J. Smith caught the inbound pass 25 feet from the basket. He turned and shot, but missed at the buzzer.
“I realized there was only four or five seconds left and I tried to make a play and tried to draw a foul,” Mathias said. “You have to be aggressive.”
Elida (15-8) will meet Celina (10-13) in the sectional finals at 8 p.m. Friday at Lima Senior. Van Wert, which lost to Elida 62-60 in the regular season, ends its season 11-12.
Celina knocked out Wapakoneta 62-40 in the second game of the night.
Austin Allemeier played a key role with 21 points, including 12 in the key fourth quarter.
“They brought people to Dakota and it happened to be my guy,” Allemeier said. “Dakota made some really good passes and I knocked down some shots.”
Louis Gray scored 12. Both Allemeier and Gray had three 3-pointers. Freshman Marquevious Wilson had nine points and nine rebounds.
“When you do defensively what they did, they face-guarded Aric (Thompson) and double-teamed Dakota (Mathias), so somebody’s going to be open,” Elida coach Denny Thompson said. “When we did (find the open man), it was a layup.”
Van Wert was led by sophomore Connor Holliday, who had 28 points and was 5 of 5 on 3-pointers. Holliday’s 3-pointer tied the game at 64 in the second overtime.
“Our kids did a good job and he (Holliday) was aggressive to take it,” Van Wert coach Dave Froelich said. … “We wanted somebody else to shoot it (besides Mathias), but you can only do that so long and Dakota has such good vision that he’s going to find people.”
Holliday also got inside for a layup to the tie game at 53 in the final seconds of the first overtime to send the game to the second extra period.
Van Wert led 24-22 at the half, led by Holliday’s 14 points and four 3-pointers.
Elida ended up holding Van Wert point guard Joey Hurless to three points, but A.J. Smith (13 points) and Holliday kept knocking down shots.
The Cougars led 40-32 with 6:21 to play when Allemeier had a four-play play, a 3-pointer and a foul shot. After Allemeier had a putback and another 3-pointer, the Bulldogs closed the Van Wert lead to 43-42.
“We went to a wide set and had a couple variations of that set,” Thompson said. “It opens things up, but there were still sending two guys at Dakota.”
Wilson had two layups and a free throw to give Elida a 47-44 lead with 1:06 to go. But Hurless weaved his way through traffic and hit a layup and the foul shot to tie the game at 47 with 19 seconds left in regulation.
Celina 62, Wapakoneta 40
Celina started the second quarter with a 15-0 run and that was more than enough to lift the Bulldogs to a 62-40 victory over Wapakoneta in the sectional opener.
Celina coach Chris Bihn felt the key was his team’s defensive effort, especially on Wapakoneta point guard Alex Greve.
“It was a matter of us being able to contain Greve,” Bihn said. “We switched it, we had Billgs (Braden Billger) guard him, we had Eric Moeder guard him, we had Ryan Hoyng guard him and we had Braelen Bader guard him. We really wanted to keep him out of the paint and our guards did a good job with that. I think that helped in a couple of different spurts.”
Billger led Celina with 20 points. Matt Buschur had 16 points and five rebounds. Mason Ross added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Celina led 26-17 at the half and 43-29 after three quarters.
Greve led Wapakoneta with 19 points and three 3-pointers. He had 10 of those in the second half. Jake Buzzard added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Wapakoneta won the boards, 31-22.
Wapakoneta shot 32 percent from the field and 4 of 17 on 3-pointers. Celina shot 61 percent from the field.