ST. MARYS — Elida’s Dakota Mathias — as good as he is — needed some help from his friends as the Bulldogs missed wide open 3-pointer after 3-pointer in the second quarter and found themselves trailing an underdog St. Marys at the half.
The Elida standout got the needed aide in the second half as the Bulldogs pulled away from the upset-minded Roughriders 63-44 at The Horseshoe on Friday night.
Elida at St. Marys boys basketball photos
Mathias shot 10-of-14 from the floor for a seemingly effortless game-high 25 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the Western Buckeye League win. The Elida junior drained back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third quarter to begin Elida big second-half surge. Mathias went 5-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc on the night.
But it was Mathias’ teammates and a better defensive effort by the Bulldogs that made the difference in turning a three-point halftime deficit into a 19-point runaway victory.
“We had some other guys step up and make shots,” Elida head coach Denny Thompson said. “And some of those guys who made shots in the second half, they had the exact same shots in the first half.”
Austin Allemeier added 15 points for Elida. Louis Gray came off the bench and went 3-for-4 from the floor in the fourth quarter. Gray scored eight points.
Elida improved to 7-2 and 2-0 in the Western Buckeye League.
Jarrett Taylor led St. Marys with 12 points and six rebounds. Austin James added 11 points.
St. Marys fell to 2-6 and 0-2 in league play.
The Roughriders came out of the gate with confidence after winning two of their last three games in a nice run of basketball over the past two weeks that included the Riders’ offensive 75-point outburst last Saturday in a win over Indian Lake in which Garet Fledderjohann scored 29 points, Austin James had 20 points and Quinn Zaerr had 17 points.
Fledderjohann was limited to five points in the game, but the senior guard helped hold down Mathias in the first half. Mathias had 10 points at the break as St. Marys forced the ball out of the hands of the highly-recruited 6-foot-4 junior and forced Elida’s surrounding parts to knock down shots.
“In the first half, Garet defensively was great,” Dan Hegemier said. “I don’t care about how many points he scores. I care about the team winning and we were right there. He had a lot of assists and was finding the open man. Elida was putting a lot of pressure on him.”
Fledderjohann picked up his third and fourth fouls in the third quarter, limiting the Roughriders’ options at defensively stopping Mathias.
St. Marys came into the game just 2-5, but Thompson said his team had its eyes opened when it trailed by three at the half.
Elida’s surrounding cast struggled to make open looks, and St. Marys led 28-25 at the half.
It was the same defense the Roughriders employed on Fort Recovery’s Wade Gelhaus back in the season opener. Thompson said his team was prepared for it. “We had every shot in the world we wanted. We just had to make them,” Thompson said.
Elida was in for a fight.
“My big emphasis before the game started was if we didn’t bring the right mentality to the court, we were going to have a game on our hands,” Thompson said. “I don’t think we overlooked St. Marys, by any stretch. But still, you’re working with 16, 17, 18 year old kids. You don’t know what’s inside their heads. We got a bit of a wake-up call at halftime there. We responded pretty well.”
Shots started falling for Mathias and his cohorts in the second half.
After Quinn Zaerr hit a 3-pointer to extend St. Marys’ lead to 31-25 early in the third quarter, Elida got things tied up at 34-34 on a Mathias 3-pointer. Elida’s Max Strubaugh and St. Marys’ Jarrett Taylor traded putbacks before Mathias put the game on his back. He hit back-to-back treys in transition with a low-lining shot that hit nothing but net both times. Elida went up 42-36 and never trailed again.
Elida shot 8-of-13 in the third quarter and 7-of-12 in the fourth quarter while baskets eluded the Roughrider in the second half.
St. Marys’ Zaerr made a basket in the paint to get the Riders to within 44-40, but Elida scored the next eight points.
St. Marys went 1-for-12 from the floor in the fourth quarter as Elida began hounding shooters.
“We were really passive defensively in the first half,” Thompson said. “We were going to switch their action. Even when we switched, we didn’t do it with any intensity. We allowed them to get shots and we allowed them to be comfortable shooting those shots. In the second half we picked up our intensity and got to their shooters better.”
“We needed a shot to fall there in the fourth quarter,” Hegemier said. “Sometimes a one or two passes and a shot is not good. We need to run half court and we need to show more patience.”
St. Marys will host New Bremen tonight in a make-up game that was snowed out on Jan. 21. The junior varsity game against the Cardinals will tip off at 6 p.m.
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