DEFIANCE — Wauseon boys basketball put together another good stretch of games at the Grube Family Holiday Classic, defeating Tinora 46-29 Monday and Bryan 45-33 on Tuesday for the tournament championship.
“This is something that we always put on our list,” said head coach Chad Burt of his team winning this particular holiday tournament, which is usually held at Defiance College but this year moved to Defiance High School. “We love the tournament atmosphere. We love the feel of it. A great venue. This definitely means something to us…it means something to our program and to our kids. We had two great battles. I think this was as even as the tournament’s been in a long time. So it’s really a credit to our guys to come out with the win here.”
Versus Bryan, the Indians had to contend with the Golden Bears’ 6’7” senior Titus Rohrer. He had 15 first half points and 20 for the game.
Wauseon trailed by as many as seven in the first half but would grab the lead by halftime. It was Carson Burt getting the benefit of the bounce on a three-point heave with two seconds left in the second quarter that gave the Indians a 22-20 halftime edge.
Bryan opened the scoring in the third with a stickback hoop from Rohrer, then an Evan Cox 3-pointer at the 6:08 mark gave the Golden Bears a 25-22 lead. Wauseon responded with five straight of their own as Jonas Tester muscled inside for a basket and Connar Penrod’s corner triple put them in front 27-25 with 3:31 left.
The two team’s alternated baskets over the final three minutes and change, with a Penrod bucket in the paint making it 31-29 in favor of Wauseon heading into the fourth.
Penrod would come up limping with an apparent injury to his foot during the final sequence of the third. This paved the way for his fellow teammates to pick up the slack in the fourth — and come through they would.
The Indians outscored the Bears 14-4 over the final eight minutes.
“We were able to get some defensive boards. I thought we did a little better job as the game wore on getting the defensive rebounds,” said coach Burt on how his team was eventually able to take control. “But they’re very long; they’re very active. And when they (Bryan) shoot like (they did in the first half), they are very good.
“I thought we continued to kind of grind. And we made some plays at the rim and got some offensive rebound conversions of our own.”
Tyson Britsch of Wauseon and Tester each scored baskets inside around a Rohrer drive and score and 1 of 2 from the foul line from Cox, staking the difference at 35-32 with 4:36 left.
Then the Indians’ Kolton DeGroff made his presence known.
First he knocked down a 3-pointer at the 3:45 mark. The next possession DeGroff converted an open layup, followed by a deuce from Noah Sauber 34 seconds later.
In response to Rohrer coming up short on the front-end of a 1-and-1 for Bryan, DeGroff scored at the other end putting Wauseon up 12, 44-32, with only 1:05 remaining. He scored all seven of his points in the fourth.
“He’s a senior. He’s kind of a little Bulldog. I mean, he’s a grinder. I was happy he finished some things at the rim. Hit a big corner three. I thought (that) was big for his confidence. I think he shouldered the load down the stretch and he kind of took it on himself to make plays. I thought he came up big for us for sure,” coach Burt said of DeGroff’s fourth quarter effort.
Penrod had 14 points and Tester added 13 to lead the Indians. Against Tinora the night before, Tester led the way with 14 while Britsch tacked on nine.
Wauseon (6-1) hosts Bowling Green (2-4) this Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010