ADA – Having to play a nearly perfect game in order to win, Wauseon had a tough time limiting all of Lima Shawnee’s playmakers, and the top-ranked Indians would pull away for a 69-54 win in a Division II boys basketball district semifinal played at Ohio Northern University Wednesday night.
The loss ended the season for the Wauseon Indians, who finish the 2019-20 campaign at 17-7. Shawnee went on to capture the district title Saturday, besting Defiance 71-51.
Looking to contain Shawnee’s top two players in George Mangas – the D-II Northwest District Player of the Year – and John Barker, Tyson Elwer was often forgotten and he made Wauseon pay. The junior forward knocked down 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and finished with a team-high 20 points.
“We were trying to make somebody else beat us,” said Wauseon coach Chad Burt. “And you know, that’s why they’re so good. They have really good pieces all over the court. Barker and Mangas get a lot of the publicity, but, that’s why they’re 24-0 and number one in the state – because they’ve got good guys all over the court. We came in with a game plan; our kids executed the game plan really well. The reality was, they were just better than we were tonight and they had some guys make some plays for them.”
The higher-seeded Indians led by as many as 16 points in the first half, going up 29-13 at the 4:51 mark of the second quarter after a Barker drive and score plus two Elwer free throws.
However, Wauseon then went on a 12-2 run over the next three minutes and change.
Jonas Tester got it started with a pair of free throws, older brother Noah drilled a 3-pointer, then Mangas’ bucket off a drive to the basket made it 31-18 with 3:43 before halftime.
Wauseon kept pushing, and Connar Penrod hit on a 3-pointer from the top of the key, Jonas Tester scored a putback hoop, and two Sean Brock free throws pulled them within 31-25 with roughly 1:30 remaining in the half.
Shawnee’s Brady Wheeler and Jarin Bertke each knocked down threes in the final 1:14, with Bertke’s coming in the closing seconds to push their lead to 37-25 at the break. It also swung momentum back in Shawnee’s favor heading into the locker room.
“We wanted to get them into a tight game and maybe put a little pressure on them,” explained Burt. “To their credit, they made shots and they stepped up when they needed to. That’s a sign of a really good basketball team. We had it right there. Defended some things really well. They just made a few shots.”
The lower-seeded Indians made one last comeback attempt in the third, going on a 7-1 run which began just before the halfway point of the quarter.
Penrod hit a midrange jumper at the 4:31 mark, Mangas split a pair from the foul line for Shawnee, then Jonas Tester scored three straight and Noah Tester converted an open basket in the paint, trimming the Shawnee lead to 43-35 with 2:16 to go.
However, like they had done before, Elwer buried a three for the Indians to give them a double-digit lead heading into the fourth.
Shawnee outscored Wauseon 23-19 in the final period.
Mangas was second in scoring for Shawnee with 19 points, while Barker kicked in 18. They shot 52 percent (22-of-42) from the field for the game and 40 percent (8-of-20) from three.
Wauseon, who shot 41 percent (19-of-46) on the night, was led by Noah Tester with 16 points. Penrod added 15 points, Jonas Tester 12 and Brock 10.
The careers of Brock and Noah Tester came to a close with the defeat. The pair, who were not always a focal point on the team throughout their four years, mainly because they had some talented players in front of them, reflected on their time at Wauseon and what this season meant to them.
“This year our mind set was we’ve got to step up, make some more plays this year. I thought we did a good job of it,” said Brock. “I thought every day we came to compete at practice. Our goal was to win league. That didn’t happen (but) we kept going though. We won a sectional, which we wanted to get a sectional (title)…get to cut down the nets. We actually earned it, because our sophomore year we didn’t play as much.”
For Noah Tester, this season was about putting all he learned from his predecessors into his role as the starting point guard.
“(My) junior year looking at Trent Armstrong and Levi Seiler. Looking how they play. Especially Trent, because he plays my position. So I wanted to be a point guard like him. How he scored the ball, passed it, (did) everything a point guard does. So I really tried to put that in this year, and I feel like I did. With the scoring, because I haven’t been much of a scorer or a 3-point shooter (in year’s past),” said Tester.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010