Wauseon made the right halftime adjustments to both Bryan’s 2-3 zone defense, and with their defense in holding the Golden Bears to 10 second half points, fighting back for a 40-35 win in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball Friday.
“I thought we did a better job of keeping them away from the rim,” said Wauseon coach Chad Burt of his Indians’ defense after halftime. “I thought the first half they got to the rim too effectively. And (Caleb) Zuver hit I think four threes the first half. I’m not sure he had any in the second half. So I thought we did a better job of getting to him and making his life a little more difficult. And I think we rebounded the basketball very well (in the second half). They are very long, very aggressive on the boards. But I thought we did a nice job of rebounding the ball.”
Wauseon was able to get back in the game with the help of a more patient offensive approach. They got within a bucket near the midway point of the third quarter as a three-point play from Trent Armstrong and a bucket inside by Trevor Rodriguez cut it to 27-25.
“I think we were pressing a little bit offensively the first half,” stated Burt. “Second half I thought we finished at the rim a lot better. Maybe made a three or two which always helps. And just, I thought played with more confidence to be honest with you. I think first half, their length really bothered us. Maybe intimidated us to some extent.”
The Golden Bears answered back with Connor Arthur’s bucket, but seven straight points from Levi Seiler gave Wauseon its first lead since the opening quarter, 32-29, with 7:18 left in regulation.
The Indians built their lead to as many as six over the next few minutes before the visiting Bears made one last rally. Two free throws by Arthur and a Zuver jumper cut the Indian lead to 35-33 with 3:20 to go.
Just over a minute later the Indians got it to Rodriguez who scored inside, extending the lead. That margin held over the next two minutes when Seiler hit a pair from the charity stripe for a 39-33 lead with 29 seconds left.
Bryan would turn it over on the ensuing possession and the Indians held on down the stretch.
However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing as the Indians were held to 18 points in the first half. It was in large part due to the zone defense played by the Bears, something they did not utilize while facing the Indians at a holiday tournament at Defiance College in December.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of 2-3 zone lately, so that’s something we’re gonna have to get better at. Again, I think second half we did,” explained Burt.
Bryan took a 12-7 lead in the first quarter with the help of a Zuver three-pointer. Sean Brock’s triple for the Indians in the final minute made it a two-point difference at the end of one.
After Brock split a pair from the foul line for the first points of the second quarter, Bryan opened up a seven point lead as Zuver hit back-to-back threes. A Seiler basket got the Indians within 18-15 at the 2:24 mark.
Arthur responded with two free throws, then after a Seiler jumper, Bryan’s Reese Jackson scored underneath and Zuver hit again from beyond the arc. The halftime margin was 25-18 following 1 of 2 from the line by Rodriguez, who was fouled as time expired in the half.
“I didn’t think we played a great first half and we were still right there,” said Burt on the message to his team at halftime. “So it was a matter of chipping away and playing defense as we did. Hopefully making a few shots, and let the chips fall where they may.”
Seiler led all scorers with 18 points. Zuver had 14 and Arthur 10 to lead the Bears.
Wauseon’s non-league game with Pettisville from Saturday was cancelled due to the weather and instead will take place today. They improved to 9-3 overall and 1-1 in the league after the win over Bryan.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010