ELIDA – Elida played really well for 27 minutes Friday night against visiting Wapakoneta but those final five minutes came close to ruining its Western Buckeye League boys basketball opener.
The Bulldogs (5-0, 1-0 WBL) grabbed a 41-22 lead early in the fourth period before the Redskins almost came all the way back before Elida held on for a 46-41 victory.
Shooting woes hampered the Redskins for three quarters when they connected on only 7-of-34 field goals for 20 percent and trailed 35-17 entering the final period of play.
"We got the shots we wanted, we just didn’t make them," Wapakoneta coach Matt Bradley said. "We are getting close to getting over the hump."
But suddenly all those shots that wouldn’t fall began to go in for Wapakoneta and Elida encountered some turnover problems and a seemingly safe lead began to melt away.
"We were up by 19 and then had a mental let down that really hurt us," Elida coach Denny Thompson said. "It was a total lack of focus."
The Redskins (2-2, 0-1 WBL) would connect on 5-of-7 three-pointers in the fourth quarter after starting the game 0-for-11 from behind the arc.
Travis Bertram, who finished with a game-high 17 points, would hit three treys on his way to a 13-point quarter to pace the Wapakoneta comeback.
Bur the hole was too deep and the Bulldogs Dakota Mathias hit 3-of-4 late free throws to hold off the Redskins comeback.
"Give Wapakoneta credit; they could have folded it and they didn’t," Thompson said. "We got the lead and then lost our focus and couldn’t get it back. We had poor offensive execution tonight and the turnovers (seven in the final period) hurt us."
Elida was led by Mathias with 16 points while Ebin Stratton was next with 8 points and Reggie McAdams finished with only four points.
"I can’t remember the last the last Reggie only scored four points," Thompson said. "His shots will start falling and it’s early and every game is a learning experience."
Wapakoneta got 17 points from Bertram and 9 points from Alex Greve.
"I was on my soapbox and preached to the kids that we have to compete on the defensive end and we did that tonight," Bradley said. "We mixed up our defenses and held Reggie to four points and Mathias was their only player in double figures but they have so many weapons."
Wapakoneta finished the night hitting 29 percent from the field on 14-of-48 from the field while Elida managed 43 percent on 18-of-41 shooting.
Rebounds were almost even with the Redskins pulling down 31 to 33 for the Bulldogs. Elida committed 15 turnovers to only 10 for Wapakoneta.