LIMA — Late in the fourth quarter on Friday night, the prodigious high school basketball career of Elida guard and future Purdue Boilermaker Dakota Mathias and the expectation-laden season of top-seeded Elida were in danger of ending at the hands of an upstart St. Marys boys basketball team that refused to die.
The Roughriders had two possessions in the closing minutes where they could tie or take the lead, but Elida’s quick hands produced a pair of turnovers as the No. 14-ranked Bulldogs survived the Roughrider challenge 49-43 at a Division II sectional final at Lima Senior.
“A lot of coaches come out of the locker room and say they’re really proud of their kids and all, but daggone it, we were playing one of the best players in the state of Ohio and a well-coached team and they go up 7-0 and we battle back and make some shots and I told the kids that St. Marys basketball is getting close,” St. Marys head coach Dan Hegemier said. “I’m proud of these guys.”
St. Marys bows out at 11-13 and as one of the Western Buckeye League’s best teams by season’s end. The Riders won six of their final nine and put a scare into the 14th-ranked Bulldogs on Friday by pestering one of Ohio’s best scorers.
The Roughriders limited Mathias, the Western Buckeye League Player of the Year, to 14 points on 5 of 16 shooting. Guards Marquis Wilson and Nathan Wilker swarmed Mathias on the perimeter in an expanded 2-3 zone.
“We wanted to guard him this time,” Hegemier deadpanned in a nod to the 29-point performance Mathias put on against the Riders earlier in the season. “We just spread out that zone and put a body on him. But how many passes did he make for them for made shots? Scoring is just part of his game. He’s going to do well in the Big Ten.”
Elida (20-3) advances to the district semifinals at Liberty-Benton to play Kenton, which stunned top-seeded Tiffin Columbian on Friday night 48-45.
Elida’s Louis Gray led all scorers with 15 points. Marquevious Wilson added 12 points.
Nathan Wilker led St. Marys with 12 points. Senior Marquis Wilson added nine points in his final game as a Roughrider.
The cupboard is far from bare as St. Marys returns most of the firepower from this year’s team. Four of the five starters from this year’s team — Fitzgerald, Zaerr, Derek Jay and Nathan Wilker — are all underclassmen.
“St. Marys basketball is ready to turn the corner,” Hegemier said.
BATH 66, CELINA 51
Not everyone can be Taren Sullivan. It’s something Bath head coach Doug Davis had to remind his team at the half as he and his Wildcats looked at a three-point deficit and a 3 for 18 horror show of bricks from 3-point range.
The problem? A lot of shooters were not named Taren Sullivan.
“It's a case where everybody is saying they were open and we have to tell them that there’s a reason they were open,” Davis said, laughing. “So we wanted to get the right people the right shots and I thought we did that in the second half.”
The Wildcats certainly rectified that in the second half. Sullivan buried four 3-pointers in third quarter and drained 7 of 11 treys in a 25-point game as Bath roared by Celina 66-51 in a Division II sectional title game on Friday night at Lima Senior.
“We came out of the locker room saying we had to take over in the first three minutes of the second half,” Sullivan said. “
Colin Gossard added 19 points for Bath, as the Wildcats drained 13 treys on the night and went 10 of 16 from long-distance in the second half.
“The biggest things was we were not closing out on their shooters well enough,” Celina head coach Chris Bihn said. “We didn’t get a hand up, so they were getting good looks.”
Mason Ross scored 12 points for Celina. Ryan Hoyng added 10 points.
Celina lost despite shooting 53 percent from the floor on 17 of 32 shooting and a 6 of 11 night from 3-point range.
Bath will play Upper Sandusky on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at Liberty-Benton High School in Findlay.