BLUFFTON — Bath boys’ basketball head coach Shawn Allen has been preaching to his team the importance of closing out games.
Allen’s team did just that in Friday’s nonconference matchup with Bluffton on the road.
Bath watched its seemingly comfortable 16-point lead dwindle down to 8 in the fourth quarter, but was able to stave off Bluffton’s comeback bid, en route to a 60-46 victory.
“I think last weekend we did some things in stretches,” said Allen, who got his 100th career victory. “Tonight, it was a little closer to putting three or four quarters together, instead of two or one. So, hopefully we’re on the right track.”
Bath (1-2) had three players score in double figures.
Chad Frey led all scorers with 22 points, including 7-of-8 shooting from the free throw line in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats. Frey also made three steals at the defensive end. Devon Kinyon scored 13 points and had five rebounds and four assists. Harrison Gough, a 6-foot-8 wing/post player for Bath, scored 12 points and pulled down a game-high 11 boards.
“I think our guard play was solid,” Allen said. “But for Harrison Gough, he needed a game like that. He played tonight the way I envisioned him to play. He rebounded. He was strong in the post. He had some good step-through moves where he was able to score. Hopefully that will continue, because we need to have him play well.”
For the game, Bath shot 57 percent from the floor, and was 12 of 13 from the charity stripe for an impeccable 92 percent. Bluffton shot 40 percent from the field.
Kaleb Jefferson led the way for Bluffton (1-1) with 16 points. Teammate Luke Denecker added 11 points and three assists.
The lead changed hands five times in the first quarter, as Bath slipped out with a 13-10 lead. Both teams shot well. Jefferson kept Bluffton close, scoring six first-quarter points.
In the second quarter, the lead switched hands four times, before Bath pulled out to a 25-16 lead with less than 30 seconds to go in the half. A 3-pointer by Kinyon gave the Wildcats the nine-point advantage, which held until the halftime break. Frey led Bath in the first half with nine points. The Wildcats shot 56 percent (10-of-18) from the floor in the first half. Bluffton was 7-of-20 from the floor for 35 percent.
Bath pushed its lead to 34-19, at the 5:30 mark of the third quarter, on a fast-break basket by Frey. Frey was fouled on the layup and went on to complete the 3-point play.
Bath extended the lead to 38-19 on an inside move by Kinyon at the 4:20 mark of the third frame.
Bath led 43-27 at the third stop.
In the final quarter, Will Clark (six points) hit two 3-pointers to push the Bath lead to 51-36, with less than five minutes to play in the contest.
Bluffton battled back, cutting the deficit to 8, 54-46, with 2:37 left to play.
However, Bath fought off the Pirates down the stretch to notch its first win of the season.
Allen was pleased at the way his team responded, especially late in the game.
“I thought, coming down the stretch, they (Bluffton) made some big shots, but we answered with Will Clark. He had two big threes. Chad Frey stepped to the line and made a heck of a lot of free throws for us,” Allen said.
Bluffton committed eight turnovers, while Bath turned it over nine times on the night.
Bath held the slight edge on the boards, 25-20.
“I thought we did a good job, for most of the game, of limiting them to one shot,” Allen said. “I thought that all our starters stepped up. Devon Kinyon made some nice shots, and he took care of the basketball. I think all our guys who stepped on the floor, made a contribution.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.