DEFIANCE – While experiencing struggles both in the opening quarter and in the final eight minutes, Wauseon boys basketball made enough plays in the middle of the game to give them the win over Holgate, 44-37, and claim the Buffalo Wild Wings tournament championship Monday night on the campus of Defiance College.
“I thought that they had a good game plan,” Wauseon coach Chad Burt said of Holgate. “They came out and executed and played very hard.
“We didn’t respond real well in the fourth quarter at times to pressure but we made enough free throws and winning plays at the end to pull it out.”
With Wauseon carrying a double-digit lead into the fourth period, things got interesting when Holgate’s Bailey Hohenberger made a high-arching shot off the glass to pull them within eight, 35-27, with 4:20 to go. Derek Anderson then split a pair of free throws for the Indians, but a long three pointer by Holgate’s Trey Jones reduced their deficit to six.
Wauseon’s Chase Brock followed by splitting a pair at the foul line, then Louis Gustwiller of Holgate answered with a pair. Brock scored with an assist from Luke Rychener, and the Tigers’ Jake Grim added more free throws to make it 39-34 with only 1:45 left to play.
After Rychener split a pair at the line, Holgate’s Dylan Pahl was fouled while going up for a rebound. He converted two free throws to pull the Tigers within four with still 1:10 to go.
Forced to foul, Mason Creager of Wauseon nailed a pair, then both Gustwiller and Rychener each split a pair, and the Indians lead was 43-37 with 44 remaining. However, Holgate failed to convert on their next two possessions, and Wauseon’s Carter Bzovi went one for two at the line to close them out.
The Tigers led 6-3 at the halfway point of the first quarter when Jones and Grim each buried threes after Rychener opened with a triple for Wauseon. Then both Brooks Gype and Austin Rotroff scored for Wauseon around a jump shot by Holgate’s Jack Clady, but Hohenberger’s layup on a nice cut to the basket made it 10-7 Tigers after one.
However, Wauseon would pick things up at both ends of the floor in quarter number two.
First Rotroff scored on an inbound play, then Anderson drilled a three from the corner. Bzovi added a putback basket, and Will Dorsey a bucket off a nice spin move, to give them the lead at 16-10 at the 4:59 mark.
“In the second quarter, specifically, I thought we got to the rim pretty well,” said Burt. “We got it inside more consistently and kind of worked inside out.”
The Tigers got to within two after Hohenberger scored down low and also on a cut to the bucket; however, Gype’s linedrive three and Rotroff’s bucket with an assist from Rychener gave the Indians a 21-14 lead at intermission.
Rotroff scored eight points in the third period, including six for six at the line, to allow the Indians to open up a 31-20 advantage heading into the final frame. Wauseon even held as big as a 13 point advantage in the third.
Rotroff, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, finished the game with 14 points.
“Well earned. Well deserved,” said Burt of his sophomore big man being named MVP. “I thought he was a force at both ends of the floor both nights. Obviously rebounding and scoring, but I think he altered some shots (as well).”
Rychener and Brock each added five points for Wauseon.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010