ELIDA — With a young basketball team, playing solid defense and controlling the boards will help soothe some of the growing pains.
Elida dominated the boards and made Van Wert work extra hard for its shots, en route to a 56-45 victory over the Cougars in Friday’s Western Buckeye League boys basketball game at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Elida dominated the boards, holding a 36-21 edge.
After a see-saw first quarter, in which the score was knotted four times, Van Wert slipped out with a 10-8 lead by the first stop.
However, Elida (5-7, 2-2 WBL) came out blazing at the offensive end in the second quarter, hitting 7-of-9 from the field, and went into the break with a 25-16 lead.
Van Wert (3-8, 1-3) had just two of its players score in the first half.
Connor Holliday, who ended the game with a team-high 16 points for Van Wert, recorded eight of those in the first half. Colin Smith scored all eight of his total points, in the first 16 minutes of action for the Cougars.
In the third quarter, Elida opened it up, pushing out to a 39-26 lead, with a little more than two minutes left to play in the period. However, Van Wert cut the deficit to 41-36 by the third stop.
That would be the closest Van Wert would come.
The Cougars struggled in the final eight minutes of action, making just 2-of-7 from the field.
“It’s something we work on all the time,” longtime Elida coach Denny Thompson said in reference to his team’s effort on the boards. “It’s what we really have to do to win games. We can’t be outrebounded and have an opportunity to win. That was a big focus for us tonight.
“I thought, defensively, we were really ready for what they (Van Wert) were going to do. I thought we made it very difficult for them, although they did have a lot of good looks. But for the most part, I thought we were pretty good defensively tonight.”
Austin Allemeier led Elida with 14 points, including a 3-pointer. Baylen Stinson, a 6-foot-1 forward, scored 13 points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. Josh Press hit three shots behind the arc for nine points and had three steals for the Bulldogs.
For the game, Elida shot 46 percent from the floor. Van Wert connected on 41 percent of its field goal attempts.
At the free throw line, Elida was 12-of-21 (57 percent) while Van Wert was 12-of-17 (71 percent) from the charity stripe.
For Van Wert, shooting the basketball consistently has been a problem this season.
“We’re playing so many lineups, trying to find combinations to score,” Van Wert coach Mark Bagley said. “When you do that, sometimes it lets them get the rebound. We’ve been rebounding really well until the last three or four games. But because of the (different) combinations (of players), that’s probably affected what we have done before.”
Thompson was especially pleased with his team’s defensive effort.
“We’re trying to pick it up with our intensity,” he said. “We really planned on going full-court a little bit, like we did last week. But with the lead, we were doing such a good job in the half-court, making shots difficult, that we just stayed in the half-court. We’re looking to extend it a little more defensively, which means we will need to play more guys.”