By John Parent
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
VAN WERT — In a one-game situation, sometimes a hot start can make all the difference. In Ayersville’s 57-35 win over Edgerton on Tuesday night, the Pilots held a 13-2 lead and rolled to a district semi-final victory.
“We wanted to be patient and get some easy passes in before we attack, and I think those easy passes led to a couple really big early baskets. I thought that was a hug advantage to come out with a 5-0 lead,” noted Ayersville head coach Jaymes Zachrich. “I think anytime you come out and get a lead on a good team, that builds confidence. I think it showed our kids that we can play with Edgerton in a big game, and the kids really responded.”
The Pilots used a 3-point field goal and an old fashioned three-point play by freshman Dawson Dales to build that 11-point lead after one quarter. Edgerton went without a field goal in the opening period and was out-rebounded 13-8 in the first half.
Though the Bulldogs were able to post a 10-9 advantage on the scoreboard in the second quarter, getting as close as eight on a Max Nihart three, the Pilots held a 10-point halftime edge on the scoreboard.

Nihart, who finished with seven points for the Bulldogs, never got into a rhythm on Tuesday night. Credit for that goes to Ayersville’s Luke Lawson.
“I thought that Luke Lawson did a tremendous job on Max Nihart. Max is a great player. I though Luke minimized his touches and did not allow him to get shots that he normally gets,” Zachrich added. “I thought that was a really big defensive assignment.”
Edgerton finally started to make some noise with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, and used a full-court trapping defense to rattle the Pilots and slice an 18-point deficit down to 10 at 40-30 after a pair of Duane Miller free throws.
Ayersville would settle down and, behind a 6-for-6 effort by Dales at the line, the Pilots were able to pull away over the final four minutes. Dales produced a game-high 22 points and handled the defensive assignment against Miller, who was held to eight points.
“I think this was his best game of the year,” Zachrich said of his talented forward. “I think he had 22 points and probably double-digit rebounds. You are talking about a freshman that is absolutely fearless. He’s gotta be one of the toughest kids that I’ve ever coached in 17 years. He’s a competitor, and he certainly makes us better.”
The Pilots will play for the district championship on Friday night.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity that is in front of us,” Zachrich said of the district championship game. “There were 14 teams in our two sectionals, and we are one of two left. We have an opportunity to bring home another district championship for Ayersville.”
Score by quarters
Ayersville 13 9 18 17- 57
Edgerton     2 10 7 16 -35
Ayersville (57)
B. Martin 10, Lawson 12, Dales 22, Bauman 7, Zimmerman 0, McGuire 0, Theiroff 0, Gerken 4, Lamb 2, Odom, K. Martin, Aden, Cook, Engel 0
Edgerton (35)
Nihart 7, Wright 2, G. Brady 0, Dua. Miller 8, Michael 12, Cercone 4, McClellan 2, R. Brady 0, Dus. Miller 0, Knecht 0
Ritter 0, Brown 0, K. Brady 0