BATH TOWNSHIP — It was a memorable night when Bath beat Elida 62-58 on Friday night to take sole possession of the lead in the Western Buckeye League boys basketball race.
And the Wildcats’ Cole Chambers saw it all, heard it all and remembered it all. Most importantly, he hit them all — or at least he hit big shot after big shot on his way to 28 points in front of the first boys basketball sellout crowd at Bath since the 1990s.
Bath (16-3, 7-0 WBL) and Elida (11-8, 6-1 WBL) came into this rematch of a double-overtime Tip-Off Classic win by Bath tied for the league lead.
With Friday night’s win, the Wildcats lead Elida by one game and Ottawa-Glandorf by two games with two WBL games left on their schedule.
“We control our destiny and I hope we take care of business,” Bath coach Doug Davis said.
“Winning this is enormous for the Bath community. This is the first time there has been a sellout here in many years. The fans came out to support us,” he said.
Chambers said, “It’s huge. We beat them once in the Tip-Off and we thought we could do it again. It made it even better getting them twice.”
Taren Sullivan had 10 points and 9 rebounds and Logan Rockhold had 10 points for Bath. Dakota Mathias led Elida with 22 points and Aric Thompson and Louis Gray had 11 points.
Bath took the lead early in the third quarter and held it for all but a minute the rest of the way. But it was down to two points, 52-50, with just over a minute to play when Chambers hit the biggest — and maybe the bravest shot of the night — when he drilled a 3-pointer out of the corner to put Bath in front 55-50.
Elida never got closer than three points after that. And that memorable shot came right after Chambers’ least-memorable shot of the night.
“We were only up two so I was kind of nervous because Dakota can almost score when he wants to sometimes. I had the open shot so I took it,” Chambers said. “I had just hit one off the backboard. My last shot hit the backboard.”
It was his fourth 3-pointer of the game, and one of six the Wildcats hit Friday night.
Davis said, “That was ice water, I guess. Man, did he play good tonight. He knocked down big shots.”
Chambers hit six straight free throws in the final minute of the game, including two with the Elida student section chanting “Pressure, pressure.”
“I heard it,” Chambers said. “I tried to block it out, but they were loud.”
Elida threatened to silence the big Bath crowd early when it went up by 10 points early after the Wildcats missed 12 of their first 13 shots.
But Bath fought back to within one point, 29-28, by halftime and took a 45-37 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter. Elida had the lead once in the fourth quarter, at 48-47, on a 3-pointer by Thompson with 5:04 to play, but a hoop by Sullivan put Bath ahead to stay.
After that 1-for-13 start, Bath shot 55 percent on field goals.
“The first timeout we talked about maybe taking the ball to the basket a little more because we weren’t getting the threes. We started attacking a little more. I think that got us going and we started to score some points and loosen up a little bit,” Davis said.
“The players stuck with the game plan, stuck with what we wanted to do,” he said.
Chambers said, “We had a huge crowd out here, sold out and everything. We just had to settle down and they started falling.”
Elida coach Denny Thompson said, “We did not play one of our better games tonight. We’ve had two great games with them and we’re hoping for a third (in the district championship game).
“It’s games like this that get you ready for down the road and it seems like we’ve had about seven of them this season.”