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LIMA — The St. Marys boys basketball team went basket for basket with Bath for a quarter, but the Wildcats’ relentless defensive pressure and array of offensive weapons proved to be too much.
Bath pulled away from St. Marys behind junior Taren Sullivan’s 25-point night for a 76-52 sectional final victory on Friday night at Lima Senior to end the Roughriders’ season.
The other team hailing from the Grand Lake St. Marys region couldn’t stay up with the other Western Buckeye League co-champion on Friday night, either. Elida’s Dakota Mathias put on a shooting clinic and scored 30 points to lead Elida past Celina, 67-57, in the second game..
Bath and Elida advance to the district tournament at Ohio Northern University next Wednesday.
BATH 76, ST. MARYS 52
St. Marys trailed 19-14 after one quarter after the Roughriders went 5-for-8 from the floor in the period.
“We were only down four and I thought we were in good shape,” Hegemier said. “But then it wasn’t there tonight.”
Bath just had too much firepower, including Sullivan, who poured in 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. He also sent down two thunderous dunks, one a putback two-handed jam.
“My teammates just kept encouraging me to keep shooting the ball and it felt good coming of the hands,” said Sullivan, who scored a combined 45 points in Bath’s two wins over the Roughriders this season.
Sullivan scored eight straight points with a pair of deep 3-pointers early inthe second quarter that gave Bath a 27-18 lead.
“Taren got hot,” Bath head coach Doug Davis said. “And he wasn’t just hitting them at the three-point line, he was pretty far out there. That’s tough to guard.”
“We couldn’t keep scoring with them,” Hegemier said. “Sullivan put on a show. Their passing and their defense are just very, very good.”
St. Marys had to pick its poison and chose to make Bath beat them from the outside.
“If they wanted to shoot it out there, we were going to let them and they dropped nine on us,” St. Marys head coach Dan Hegemier said.
Bath shot 51 percent from the floor on 30-of-59 from the floor and went 9-for-22 from 3-point range (41 percent). That outside shooting performance stood in contrast to the last time the Roughriders and Wildcats got together. Bath went 1-for-30 from long distance in their 56-37 win in January at St. Marys.
St. Marys senior guard Garet Fledderjohann closed out his playing career at Memorial High School with yet another 20-point game. Fledderjohann scored 23 points and ended his four year varsity stint with 1,111 points — third on the all-time scoring list at St. Marys behind only Damon Goodwin (1,190 points) and Mark Ashman (1,194 points).
The Roughriders finished the season 9-15. They won four of their last seven games and won the program’s first tournament game since 2008 on Tuesday night against Kenton.
“We’ve had a pretty decent year,” Hegemier said. “I thank the seniors and my staff.”
St. Marys sophomore Isaac Fitzgerald played a strong game off the bench, scoring 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the floor. He had three offensive rebounds. Fellow sophomore Quinn Zaerr led the Riders on the boards with eight rebounds.
Bath will play Willard on Wednesday, March 6 at ONU at 6:15 p.m.
ELIDA 67, CELINA 57
Elida head coach Denny Thompson told Mathias before the game that he had the green light to shoot from well beyond the 3-point arc.
“His eyes kind of lit up,” Thompson said. “If they were going to send people at him, I wanted him to get a good look before they got to him.”
Mathias went 6-of-11 from outside, including one that was nearing the 35-foot volleyball line that drew gasps from the crowd as he launched it.
“He said that in the pre-game and I got excited and let it go,” said Mathias, who was named the Western Buckeye League’s player of the year earlier this week.
Mathias went 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the second quarter, as Elida went from being down 13-12 after one quarter to going into the half up 33-19.
Celina shot 1-for-13 in the second quarter, most of which were makable shots, Celina head coach Chris Bihn said. “There was a period in the second and third quarters where we couldn’t stop them and they were taking some tough shots and making them and we had some lay-ups rim in and out. They were scoring we weren’t.”
Elida extended its lead to 22 points early in the third quarter.
Elida will play Lexington next Wednesday at 8 p.m. at ONU.