BATH TOWNSHIP — It probably was not a good sign for Bath when the public address system temporarily went down during the starting lineups of Friday’s Western Buckeye League opener with visiting Elida.
Elida looked fully charged from the opening tip, jumping out to a big lead and then staving off the Wildcats in the second half for a 54-36 victory in boys basketball action.
With the win, Elida improves to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the WBL. Bath slips to 0-5 overall and 0-1 in league play.
After getting down 18 points by halftime, Bath climbed back into it and cut the deficit to five points in the third quarter.
However, Elida, behind the hot shooting of senior guard Drew Brockert, pulled away for the victory.
Brockert led all scorers with 20 points, including six 3-pointers (four threes in the second half). Senior forward Matt Fish scored 16 points, pulled down nine rebounds and dished out three assists for the Bulldogs.
Freshman Jonah Wauben, a 6-foot-4 post player, led Bath with 12 points, including three 3-pointers. Another freshman, Andrew Stahr, added nine points and five boards for the Wildcats.
“That’s the fifth game in a row that we’ve had quick starts,” Elida coach Denny Thompson said. “The focus at halftime was that when we get teams that are in their (Bath) situation and let them think they have a chance to win, then they’re going to be hungry and come after you. That’s exactly what happened. They played very inspired in the second half. They made situations and opportunities for themselves, but we made enough shots.”
Elida started the game with a 13-0 run. Fish scored Elida’s first three field goals, all coming on fast breaks. Fish scored eight points in the first eight minutes of action. Bath scored its first point at the 2:29 mark, on a free throw by Derrick Grigsby (four points, seven rebounds) to make it 13-1.
The Bulldogs led 15-3 by the first stop. Bath was just 1 of 12 shooting from the field in the first stanza. The Wildcats turned the ball over five times.
Elida extended its lead to 25-5 by the 4:43 mark of the second quarter. Fish continued to take the ball strong to the basket, scoring three more times down low.
However, Bath cut into the huge deficit, making it 33-16 by the halftime break.
In the first half, Elida was 15 of 29 shooting from the field for 52 percent. Bath, on the other hand, was 6 of 22 from the floor for 27 percent.
Fish led the way for the Bulldogs, scoring 14 first-half points, while coming away with four rebounds.
“He’s capable of doing that,” Thompson said of Fish. “He just has a motor that goes; and he has to figure out when it’s time to back off to 80 miles per hour, instead of going 100. But he’s active and so good going to the basket. He’s also one of our big rebounders.”
At the 4:04 mark of the third quarter, Wauben hit his third trey of the game to cut the Elida lead to 7, 33-26.
A few minutes later, Bath cut it to 5, 33-28 on an inside move by Stahr.
The Bulldogs led 39-28 by the end of the third quarter, thanks to a half- court shot by Brockert at the buzzer. Brockert scored all six of Elida’s third-quarter points. Bath out-scored Elida 12-6 in the third stanza.
“We got them to five,” Bath coach Shawn Allen said. “We’re one basket from getting them to one possession. But at the end of the third quarter, they hit a three. … We turned it over. …Then they hit a half-court shot. That was a big swing.”
Elida out-scored Bath 15-8 in the final stanza. The Bulldogs were 5 of 7 shooting from the free throw line in final eight minutes.
Thompson was pleased to see Brockert step up and hit those key shots in the second half.
“Drew is very capable of shooting the ball like that,” Thompson said. “He’s in one of those streaky modes of his high school career. But tonight, he made some (shots) and that was great to see. He fed off the earlier success and made some big baskets for us.”
For the game, Elida shot 47 percent from the field. Bath countered with 29-percent shooting from the floor.
Both teams came away with 33 rebounds.
Bath turned the ball over 15 times. Elida turned it over just seven times on the night.
“We’re making strides,” Allen said. “We got off to a horrendous start. They (Elida) played well in the first half, but in the third quarter we outplayed them. And we did that with four freshmen and a junior on the floor.
“This team will eventually win. You just can’t get into that big of a deficit and expect to come flying back.”
Added Thompson, “This thing is a journey and we have to learn to get better. So far, every game has been a learning opportunity for us. We just have to make sure we learn from it.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.