FINDLAY – Coach Chad Burt knew his team would have its hands full against a Van Wert team they eliminated a year ago. They got more than a battle as the Cougars erased a double-digit lead in the first half to eliminate the Indians 57-53 in a Division II boys basketball sectional final Friday at Findlay.
Wauseon, who led 26-11 late in the first half, watched as Van Wert cut the lead to 27-17 by halftime. The Cougars then came out and started on fire in the second half, which helped them take a 33-32 lead, a lead they never relinquished the rest of the night.
“That’s a tough one, you have to give them a lot of credit,” Wauseon coach Chad Burt said after the game. “They took us out of some things and were very long and active at the rim.
“The reality is they started to make some shots,” added Burt. “We could have had a better lead at halftime. In the second half, they made shots too.”
Van Wert did give the Indians chances late in the game. Missing on three front-ends of a one-and-one, Nate Place finally scored for the Cougars, but missed the chance at a three-point play. Trent Armstrong came down and hit a triple for the Indians, which made the score 55-54 with 15 seconds left.
Wauseon sent the Cougars to the free throw line, and the strategy paid off as both shots were missed. It allowed the Indians to bring the ball into the frontcourt and set up a play. The Tribe went to Armstrong, who on a drive stepped on the baseline and the ball went back over to Van Wert.
“We had a chance,” said Burt. “We had a play drawn up. We were going to put the ball in Trent’s hands and let him get to the rim. We thought something good was going to happen for us. He wasn’t able to turn the corner. They did a good job defensively.”
Trying to get lucky one more time, Wauseon extended the game with another foul, however this time the Cougars made both tosses.
Armstrong finished his Wauseon career with a 20-point night. Levi Seiler added 15 and Sean Brock chipped in with 12 points.
Wauseon finishes the season 18-5.
Reach Randy Roberts at [email protected]