Sophomore Drew Myers looks to score inside in this file photo. Myers and the Cougars faced a height disadvantage against Bath on Friday and the Wildcats claimed a 15-point win. (TB file photo)
By Jim Cox
Times Bulletin Correspondent
BATH TOWNSHIP - Bath’s offense and defense started Friday night’s game on a roll, burying Van Wert in a hole it couldn’t climb out of. The end result was a 72-57 Wildcat victory that left Bath tied at the top of the Western Buckeye League with a 4-1 mark. Bath is 10-3 overall. The Cougars are 2-3 and 6-7.
Van Wert turned the ball over on its first three possessions, and all three resulted in Wildcat buckets, making it 7-0 with 6:41 left in the first quarter. The Cougars countered with a Matt Bidlack layup and a Connor Holliday free throw, but two more Van Wert miscues had the Cats up 11-3 at 5:12.
The home team scored a whopping 24 first-quarter points on 11-of-18 field goal shooting, leading by ten after one. Eighteen of Bath’s first-quarter points came on layups. Van Wert was an impressive 6-of-9 from the field in the first eight minutes. The Cougars, however, had seven turnovers, a trend which, fortunately for them, would not continue.
Both teams’ offensive production went down considerably in the second period, won by Bath 11-5. The visitors were an icy 2-for-13 from the field in that quarter, allowing the Cats to expand the lead to 35-19. The Findlay University-bound wing, 6’6 Taren Sullivan, had 11 points in the first 16 minutes. First-half free throw shooting was atrocious by both teams, with Bath going zero-for-four and Van Wert 1-for-5. The Cougs had only two second-quarter turnovers, totaling nine for the half. Bath had four first-half miscues.
The second half was a totally different story, albeit too late for the Cougars. The third period was basically a basket-trading affair, with the Wildcat lead varying between 16 and 21 points. It was 51-33 after three.
Although the outcome was not in doubt, the final period was an entertaining one. Bidlack was a one-man show with 17 fourth-quarter points. His three-pointer at the 2:31 mark got the Cougars within ten, 62-52, but the Wildcats suddenly began to hit free throws down the stretch to keep Van Wert at bay. The Cougars won that quarter 24-21.
Bath ended the game with a 54 percent (30-of-56) field goal shooting percentage, not surprising since 48 of their points came in the paint. Van Wert shot 44 percent (23-of-52) from the field. Neither team was impressive from the line as both hit half of their attempts (Bath 9-of-18, Van Wert 5-of-10). The much taller Wildcats dominated the boards 34-22 and had fewer turnovers, 10-12.
Bidlack and Holliday led Van Wert scoring with 26 and 17, respectively, but they had very little offensive help. Bath had three double-digit scorers — Colin Gossard, Sullivan, and Trent Jones with 22, 21, and 15.
Van Wert was without starting co-captain Kyle Keber, who is sidelined with a concussion.
The Van Wert junior varsity is now 9-4 after their 54-50 win. The Cougars were led in scoring by Colin Smith and Gavin Gardner with 20 and 10. Ryan Gossard had 13 for Bath.
Score by quarters:
Bath 24 11 16 21- 72
Van Wert 14 5 14 24- 57
Atkins 2, Renner 7, Gossard 22, Sullivan 21, Jones 15, Bishop 5, Clark 0, Burkholder 0, Frazier 0
Van Wert (57)
Smelser 0, Bidlack 26, Holliday 17, Moreland 2, Myers 3, Stoller 5, Wortman 4, Henry 0, Keirns 0, Nick Keber 0