ADA – In a game that was never as close as it looked, Wauseon punched its ticket to a second consecutive Division II boys basketball regional with a 69-52 win Saturday night against Lima Shawnee at Ohio Northern University.
Wauseon jumped out to a 25-13 lead by the end of the opening period, then brushed off a slow start to begin the second to extend the lead. Wauseon held Shawnee to just one made free throw in the period to go up 33-14 by halftime.
“In the first quarter, I thought they had a pretty good offensive rhythm,” Wauseon coach Chad Burt said of the Shawnee Indians. “We went to a 1-3-1 (zone) just to test the waters a little bit to see how it would look. In the first possession Trent got a steal. We tried it again and our guys got comfortable playing it.”
Shawnee couldn’t find much offense early on in the second half. In the final stanza, Shawnee did find some success from long range. Logan Maxwell buried triples to draw Shawnee within 20, but Wauseon was able to finish off Shawnee with a 69-52 decision.
“We had them at one point 7 of 10 in the second half from 3,” Burt mentioned about trying to close out the game. “It’s one of those where it always looks better when you shoot it well.”
Finding a match-up Wauseon liked, the Tribe went inside to Austin Rotroff, who finished with a handful of dunks as a part of his 26 points.
“As the game progressed, they played every defense under the sun,” Burt said of being able to find spots to get Rotroff the basketball. “They played some triangle and two and some 2-3 (zone), some 3-2 (zone) and they pressed in different styles. It was a matter of us trying to get the best shot possible.
“I was very happy with Austin’s aggressiveness tonight,” continued the Wauseon coach. “I thought our guys did a good job of setting him up. He finished at the rim very well.”
Levi Seiler and Trent Armstrong both added 12 points.
Wauseon will now play Lexington in a regional semifinal Thursday night at Bowling Green’s Stroh Center.
“We’re looking forward to that venue,” Burt closed of heading to Bowling Green after playing games in Findlay and Ohio Northern. “We’ve had a chance to play there a few times over the years and it’s just an awesome venue. Everything about it, from the size to the lighting, is different. We’ll have to adjust quickly.”
Tip time Thursday night is 8 p.m.
Indians get by Van Wert in semifinal
The scare was real. With starting point guard Trent Armstrong on the bench with foul trouble and Wauseon missing free throws, the top ranked Indians survived a challenge from another opponent as the undefeated team took care of Van Wert 51-41 Wednesday night in the district semifinal.
“We knew coming in they were going to be very-well prepared,” Wauseon coach Chad Burt said of the Cougars. “They played their tails off. They do a great job of executing their sets and they have playmakers.
“I don’t think it was real pretty,” continued the Wauseon coach. “I don’t think it was our best game of the year but in tournament time you don’t get style points.”
The Indians never had a comfortable lead, despite leading for the final three quarters. Grabbing a 14-10 lead at the end of the opening frame, the Tribe pushed the lead out to 26-16 by halftime. It was still hovering around the 10-point mark when Levi Seiler – who was a perfect 6 for 6 from the floor and led all scorers with 16 points – hit on a backdoor cut to the basket at the end of the third period for a 39-26 advantage.
“I thought he played relaxed tonight,” the Wauseon coach said of his team’s leading scorer in the game. “I thought he took the plays that were there. His buckets were timely.”
Van Wert made a run when they extended the game in the final period. Sending Wauseon to the free throw line, the Cougars made the most of the misses and when Jacoby Kelly buried a trey with 1:29 left, Van Wert had cut the lead to eight.
Wauseon did make enough free throws, going 5 of 11 down the stretch, to keep some room between the two teams.
“Strategically, if you watch the WBL (Western Buckeye League), Defiance did the same thing in the first game (a semifinal loss to Lima Shawnee),” Burt said of Van Wert’s plan to extend the game. “The WBL really tries to extend the game and they’ll start to foul you with three minutes left in the game. That’s kind of scary because the officials – especially at this level – don’t like to call every little thing.”
The stoppages also allowed Wauseon to get Armstrong out, who picked up his fourth foul early in the second half.
The Tribe finished 18 of 40 from the floor and 13 of 21 from the line. They also outrebounded Van Wert 33-23, with Austin Rotroff pulling down 17. Rotroff completed the double-double with 10 points. Armstrong added 10 points as well.
Van Wert finished 11 of 37 from the floor. They also committed 11 turnovers to just nine for the Indians.
Reach Randy Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org
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