ELIDA — Elida’s Denny Thompson is always happy to get a win and against Bath, the longtime Bulldog head coach knows he was fortuitous to escape with a 67-58 victory over his crosstown rivals in a Western Buckeye League battle at the Elida Fieldhouse on Friday night.
With the win, Elida improves to 4-3 for the season and the Bulldogs even their WBL mark at 1-1. Bath remains winless at 0-6 for the season and falls to 0-2 in league play.
“Boy you have to give Bath credit tonight. They hit a lot of 3’s tonight,” Thompson said. “They shot the ball well and if they keep shooting the ball like that they are going to get some wins.”
Going into the fourth quarter, Elida held a 52-40 lead and appeared poised to collect an easy win.
However, the determined Wildcats went on a 11-4 run to open the final stanza and when Britton Hall stole the ball and laid it in for two points, the Wildcats were down 56-51 with 2:58 left. With some shaky free throw shooting by Elida, Bath stayed close, and after a Hall 3-pointer, Bath was within four, 58-54 with 1:26 left in the game.
But Elida rectified its charity stripe woes down the stretch to curtail the Wildcat charge and secure the victory.
“We played well late in the third and into the fourth quarter and with a sense of urgency but against a good shooting team we can’t get down early. We played lazy in the first half and didn’t talk on defense and they had a lot of wide open 3’s but we have to stop digging ourselves in a hole.”
Elida held a 19-14 lead after the first quarter and it remained close two minutes into the second quarter with the Bulldogs holding a slim 24-22 advantage. But Elida went on a 10-0 run to open up the double digit advantage and that lead would grow to 43-28 by halftime.
“That was huge,” Burris said. “We had some costly turnovers in the second quarter and didn’t run our offense and started getting out of our flow and gave up a couple of wide open 3’s. We have to do better on defense.”
Down by 15 points, Bath upped its defensive pressure and the Wildcats slowly began to chip away at the lead and got it down to 12 going into the fourth quarter.
In the first half, Elida saw seven different players score but that would change in the second half as Bath’s clamped down and forced some turnovers and errant shots and suddenly the Bulldogs found points hard to come by.
“I think they picked up their pressure and it made it tougher for us to execute and get the ball where we wanted to get it.,” Thompson said. “We have to a better job of getting people where they need to be and run our offense where we want it to be.”
Elida’s Quan Moore remained the most consistent shooting Bulldog throughout the night as he finished with a game-high 21 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds. Teammate Riley Fricke, who had a trio of treys in the first half to help the Bulldogs build the big lead, ended up with 12 points and Dylan Buetner chipped in 11 points.
Bath’s Ian Armentrout led the Wildcats with 18 points and it was his early shooting from the perimeter that kept the Wildcats in the game. Hall, who spearheaded the fourth quarter comeback, finished with 13 points with 10 of those coming in the final eight minutes
“I thought we fought hard in the second half,” Burris said. “We have the ability to hang with a lot of teams and we are there almost but we have to get over the hump and come together as a team and start the fourth quarter like we start the fourth quarter.”
The Wildcats hit 11 3-pointers in the game.
Thompson said the one thing his team did well throughout the game was rebound. The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Wildcats 31-20.
“I don’t know what we ended up but it felt like we did a better job on the boards tonight,” Thompson said. “That has been a big emphasis and we have to be a better rebounding team with our size and I think we made a step tonight.”