TOLEDO – Wauseon had an 11-point lead drop to four, but the Indians made some big plays down the stretch, including going 5 for 6 from the free throw line in the final 1:08 of the game, to defeat Clyde 56-44 in a Division II girls basketball sectional final at Bowsher Saturday night.
The win puts the Indians in the district tournament for the first time since 2015.
“Any practice you get, you get better,” Wauseon coach Dan Seiler said on getting another week to play. “That’s all we can ask for. We’ll go up against Rogers and see what happens.”
Wauseon took an 11-point lead into the final period, but that quickly evaporated as the Fliers put together a run. Clyde started the final period with a 7-1 advantage, which ended on a kickout trey from Madison Bannister off an offensive rebound.
Delanie Roush picked up Wauseon’s first bucket of the period, however, Bannister answered with another triple and the Indians had just a 45-41 lead with 3:52 left.
“I told the girls at halftime I wasn’t calling timeouts to bail them out,”stated the Wauseon coach. “They had to learn to fight through it and mature. It was getting kind of sketchy, but give our girls credit. They’ve done a lot of different things they aren’t used to doing and I think it shows.”
It was at that point when the Indians reached the bonus, and they took advantage. Chelsie Raabe and Sam Aeschliman both hit free throws on a 6-0 run, which also saw Aeschliman score to finish some great passing to get to the basket.
Clyde managed just one more basket before the Indians finished off the game from the charity stripe.
Wauseon finished 17 of 22 from the line in the game.
“We’ve been shooting really well from the free throw line,” said Seiler. “Do we make them all? No. This last half of the season, we’ve been playing about as well as we can play.”
The Indian defense put the clamps on the Fliers in the first half. Clyde started the second period by missing its first six shots, which helped the Indians go on a 9-0 run to lead 17-5. The teams traded points after that for a 28-17 Wauseon lead at the half.
“We played a trap and played some man (man-to-man defense),” explained Seiler on the stingy Wauseon defense. “We’re fairly aggressive with it but we gave up too many fouls in the first half.”
Clyde was 4 of 26 shooting in the first half and finished 15 of 53 (28 percent) in the game. Wauseon was 18 of 42 for 43 percent.
Sydney Zirkle led the Indians with 14 points. Aeschliman added 11.
Both teams struggled taking care of the basketball. The Indians committed 24 turnovers and forced Clyde into 20. Wauseon also outrebounded the Fliers 36-28.
Up next for the Indians is a battle against fourth-ranked Rogers in a district semifinal.
“Our best defense might be our offense,” Seiler said on facing the Rams. “We’re not going to be afraid of them. We’ll try to get the ball up and down the court and we’ll see what happens. They put their shoes on the same way our girls do. They are a great team and they are well coached, but I think I have a pretty good team.”
The game is set for Thursday at Springfield at 8 p.m.
Reach Randy Roberts at email@example.com