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03-03-04: Elida holds off late Roughriders rally


ADA — For the second time this season St. Marys and Elida were involved in a nailbiter, but this time it was Elida not St. Marys coming away with the victory.
After controlling most of the contest, Elida couldn’t lock up the game at the foul line and it allowed St. Marys to come charging back, but despite the Roughriders’ late rally, the Bulldogs held on for a 51-47 win in the Division II sectional opener at Ohio Northern University.
Elida led by as many as 10 points with 3:39 to play, and were still up by nine points when Troy Selover hit a bucket with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter.
St. Marys’ Tom Burke hit one of his four three-pointers to cut the lead to 47-41, and when Elida missed the front half of two one-and-one bonus situations and then both attempts on a double bonus, it allowed Burke to can another three-pointer and the Roughriders trailed by just three points with 59 seconds to play.
Aaron Thompson finally ended Elida’s struggles from the line by making a pair of free throws to put the Bulldogs up five points with 54 seconds left.
Scott Vossler answered with a deep three-pointer, roughly 30 feet from the hoop, to pull the ’Riders to within two at 49-47 with 48 seconds remaining.
St. Marys then forced a turnover on a jump ball situation to take possession with 39.9 seconds remaining.
The ’Riders worked the ball around the perimeter briefly before Tom Burke once again tried a three-pointer from the left corner, but the Bulldogs’ Tyler Smith was able to deflect the shot and Thompson grabbed the loose ball and was subsequently fouled.
Thompson then buried two more free throws with 24 seconds left for the games final points.
“We wanted the ball to go inside, we tried to run a double screen for Scott Vossler to come off of it,” said St. Marys coach Josh Leslie. “Tom thought he had a decent look at it, and he’s capable of making that shot. He’s made it a ton of times, it just gets tipped and knocked out of bounds. Scott might have been open, but I can’t fault Tom for trying to make a shot that he’s made in the past.”
Burke finished with 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting, but he often had little time to set up his shot and he wasn’t the only Roughrider to struggle shooting as St. Marys connected on 17-of-43 field goals (39.5 percent).
The Roughriders’ main problems came from an inability to get the ball consistently inside the paint for some closer looks at the basket, something that Elida coach Chris Adams said was his squad’s main focus.
“I thought we did a great job of eliminating number 15 (Kyle) Vossler, he was hurting us on the baseline bad in the first game, he had 11 points and I thought for the most part we took that away and gave them some threes,” Adams said.
Kyle Vossler finished with eight points and St. Marys hit on 6-of-24 from behind the arc, a 25-percent clip.
“We were really going to try and take away their interior play,” Adams said.
Elida was able take away that inside mainly with its quickness, which by no coincidence hurt the ‘Riders on the other end of the court as well.
St. Marys’ offensive struggles were no more evident then at the start of the game where it had six first-quarter points on 3-of-8 shooting.
Scott Vossler scored one of his 21 points on a steal with three seconds remaining in the first quarter for a 6-6 tie, but that would be St. Marys’ last points until a Kyle Vossler free throw with 3:02 left in the second, ending a 5:01 scoring drought.
“We wanted to try and get the ball in the post as much as possible, and I thought we did a pretty decent job of that in the second half, the first half we did a terrible job of that,” Leslie said. “But when you make 7-of-17 from the foul line you don’t have a chance. In tournament situations you have to limit your turnovers and make free throws.
“The first game I thought we could have put them away if we make free throws, and this game I thought we could have won if we made free throws,” Leslie added. “Then we don’t have to consistently scrap and claw the whole way through.”
Elida, meanwhile, was able to get the ball inside, but it was mainly on penetration from Eli Brooks and Jason Sarno.
Brooks finished with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds, with Sarno connecting of 7-of-10 field goals for 17 points.
“We didn’t attack the zone in the first game,” Adams said. “We wanted to wait for reversal and then try to have Eli use his quickness. But what we had happen was we were able to get penetration down the middle of that zone instead of the wings and that’s one of the things that we talked about at halftime, attacking down the middle.”
Elida finished by making 19-of-33 field goals (58 percent) and 11-of-17 from the foul line.
Elida improves to 13-8 while St. Marys ends a fine season at 14-7.
The Bulldogs now move on to the sectional final Friday at Ohio Northern University where they’ll meet Ottawa-Glandorf, who had no problems in a 75-38 opening-round win over Bath.


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