DEFIANCE – Just one day after narrowly escaping with a one-point victory thanks to a Paulding missed three-pointer as time expired, Wauseon was more focused on Saturday, defeating familiar foe Bryan in the championship of the Grube Family Holiday Classic, 50-36, in a tournament held at Defiance College.
The two halves were very similar from a scoring standpoint, with the Indians holding a 25-17 lead at halftime and outscoring the Golden Bears 25-19 after the break.
“High school kids are funny sometimes that, you know, day to day is very different. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re gonna get,” said Wauseon coach Chad Burt following Saturday’s win. “I thought we came out with a lot of energy today. I thought we rose to the challenge. I think Bryan is playing very, very well. They are extremely well-coached. And I thought our guys met that challenge on the effort end and on the execution end for the most part.”
Bryan led for much of the first quarter until a pair of Noah Tester threes in the last half of the period put the Indians ahead 12-10 after one.
Wauseon extended that margin in the second period, outscoring the Golden Bears 13-7 for a 25-17 lead at the half. Connar Penrod – who later received the tournament’s “Mr. Hustle” award – went 6 for 6 from the foul line in the frame to lead the Indians.
Jonas Tester, Noah Tester and Sean Brock also made the all-tournament team.
The Indians went up 10 38 seconds into the third on two more Penrod free throws. However, Canon Lamberson got the Bears going with a triple, then Connor Arthur scored off a steal to pull them within 27-22 at the 5:43 mark.
Brock laid one in at the other end for Wauseon, but Bryan’s Reese Jackson answered that with a hoop in the paint which put it at 29-23. The difference would stay six going into the fourth, with Wauseon on top 37-31.
In the fourth, Penrod scored inside 16 seconds while Brock tacked on two more hoops, giving the Indians the cushion they needed to close off Bryan. Brock scored 11 of his 17 points after halftime.
“He asserted himself very well,” said Burt of his senior forward. “He finished well. Last night (against Paulding) we didn’t finish real well around the rim. He finished very well, and as a team we were much better. I think that was a big difference too, was we got their bigs in a little bit of foul trouble. And then we went right at them. I thought Sean did a great job of converting.”
Noah Tester added 13 points and Penrod 10. Caleb Zuver, the tournament MVP, paced Bryan with 12.
Indians survive Paulding, 38-37
On Friday, Wauseon got 1 of 2 free throws from Jonas Tester in the final five seconds, then saw Seth Dysinger of Paulding’s three at the horn go off the front iron, sealing a 38-37 Indian win.
“I thought they made some really big shots down the stretch. I didn’t think we handled the pressure very well. And we put ourselves in position where we had to come up with a last stop. Fortunately, they missed that last shot. I think you’ve got to give them and their staff a lot of credit. They were very well-prepared. We’re fortunate to get out of here with a win,” said Burt of Paulding and his team being able to escape with victory.
The win was the 200th of Burt’s career at Wauseon, now into its 12th season.
The Panthers held several leads throughout in what was a back and forth contest for the most part. They employed a 2-3 zone which gave Indians fits at times.
“We talked at halftime, I thought we did a nice job of going to the boards. We just had to do a better job of converting,” stated Burt. “I thought (Payton Beckman) did a nice job of really protecting the rim for them and altering some shots. I think our effort was there, but we just got to do a better job of converting.”
The Indians led 17-16 at the half, then 26-23 going into the fourth on a Jonas Tester three-point play with 24 seconds left in the third.
Wauseon appeared poised to put away Paulding in the fourth when a Penrod layup and Tyson Britsch’s three-point play gave them a 37-30 margin with 3:22 remaining. However Blake McGarvey split a pair of free throws, Dysinger hit a deep three, and McGarvey’s three knotted the score with 1:19 left.
The Indians held for the final possession where Jonas Tester got into the lane and was fouled, and after going 1 for 2, gave his team a 38-37 lead. As mentioned, their defense held as Dysinger failed to connect on a three.
Jonas Tester led the Indians with 11 points while Britsch chipped in nine. McGarvey paced Paulding (2-7) with 18.
Wauseon (6-1) hosts Archbold (5-2) on Thursday in a non-league tilt rescheduled from Nov. 30. They then travel to Anthony Wayne on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010