NAPOLEON – A strong first quarter got Wauseon off and running and the Indians were never really threatened by Holgate in the consolation game of the 25th annual Northwest Signal Holiday Classic held Saturday afternoon at Napoleon High School. The Indians took care of the Tigers 49-29.
In the first round of the tournament Thursday, the Wauseon girls fell to eventual champion Napoleon 50-36. The Wildcats bested Patrick Henry for the title, 57-41.
A 15-2 first quarter flurry aided Wauseon’s hot start against Holgate.
Marisa Seiler – an all-tournament team honoree – got it started with a three-pointer with just under five minutes left in the period. Sam Aeschliman and Hayley Meyer each followed with two free throws, and Seiler’s bucket on an inbounds play made it 11-2 in favor of Wauseon.
Lexa Schuller got a bucket for the Tigers to briefly stop the bleeding; however, Autumn Pelok answered nine seconds later, then Aeschliman scored in transition on a pass from Pelok, and Seiler drilled a pair of free throws for a 17-4 lead at the 1:30 mark.
When the Indians were rolling on this day, they did so with a strong defensive effort creating opportunities in transition for the offense.
“When we’re clicking on defense, we look pretty good on offense,” said head coach Dan Seiler. “It’s just been a slow process to get that transition into their mindset. But I think we’re gaining. We’re not where we want to be yet. But we are getting better at defense. We’re getting better at shutting people down. You know, I think they’re starting to have some fun. They are starting to feed off of the defense at times.”
Carissa Meyer hit a three for the Tigers but Paige Smith answered for Wauseon, giving them a 12-point edge after one. Each team scored 10 points in the second quarter as the Indians led 29-17 at the half.
With building a double-digit lead fairly early in the first half, coach Seiler felt comfortable getting his bench heavily involved. Five players scored at least four points for the Indians.
“I’ve always said since day one, our bench is critical,” said Seiler. “They come to practice every day, they battle. And we need our bench to be successful. It’s really nice being able to get them in. Get them some playing time and let them see what happens. I thought they did a really good job. They might not have scored a lot but defensively, and even offensively moving the ball, I thought they did really good.”
The Indians doubled up the Tigers in the early minutes of the third quarter. Aeschliman scored 19 seconds in but missed the free throw for a potential three-point play, Chelsie Raabe did convert a three-point play for the Indians, then Seiler’s fast break hoop around 1 of 2 free throws from Meyer made it 36-18 at the 5:12 mark.
Wauseon would score the final seven points in the frame, going up by 21 at 47-26 heading into the fourth. Only a combined five points were scored by the Indians and Tigers in the final period.
“I think our biggest thing was our communication,” said Seiler on a key for his team in the second half. “We played pretty much a straight man (defense). That’s what we’d like to play. But our backside help has just been terrible pretty much all season. We just challenged them to communicate (at halftime). Try to talk, try to be more active on that backside. And I thought we did a better job of that.”
The Indians were led by Seiler who tallied 17 points. Aeschliman added 11 and Pelok 8.
Wauseon (8-2) opens Northwest Ohio Athletic League play with a game at Delta (8-2) this Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010