By Jim Cox
Times Bulletin Correspondent
ELIDA — It would be difficult to find any aspect of Van Wert’s game to criticize in Thursday night’s 58-40 win over Elida. It was a big one, too, putting the Lady Cougars at 4-1 in the Western Buckeye League and still very much in the title chase. They’re 12-2 overall. The Lady Dogs are 3-2 in the WBL and 6-7 overall.
“I’m really pleased with this game…to come over here and play as well as we did,” said Van Wert coach Lance Moonshower. “I’m really happy with (only committing) 12 turnovers. We’ll win a lot of games if we take care of the ball like that. We did a nice job offensively. Defensively, we moved pretty well, found their shooters, got to the people we needed to get to. I thought tonight was a step in the right direction.”
It was a battle royal for the first 13 minutes. Van Wert’s Riley Jones hit two three-pointers and a deuce in the first quarter to stake the Cougs to a 12-9 lead after one. She wouldn’t score again and took only one more shot, but Erin Morrow, after a scoreless first quarter, took over the major scoring duties from that point on.
Late in the second period, the Cougars, led by Morrow, began to put some distance between themselves and the tenacious Lady Dogs. With the score tied at 21 all, Van Wert’s Alexis Dowdy drained a three-pointer from the left wing, launching a 10-1 run to end the quarter. Elida’s Brett Pauff split a pair from the line to make it 24-22 at the 2:29 mark, but Morrow scored five in a row on two free throws, a driving layup and another free throw. Cheyenne Handy’s breakaway layup at 0:32 made it 31-22, Cougars, which is where it was at the half.
“Our spacing to start with was a little bit poor,” added Moonshower. “We’ve got shooters about every place. If we can stay spaced, it’s tough for them to guard our post people and also get out on our shooters. We can get some spurts going with our three-point shooters.”
In the first 16 minutes the home team shot an impressive 59 percent from the field — 10-of-17 — but they offset that with 11 turnovers. The hot shooting would not continue, but the turnovers would. The Cougars in the first half hit 48 percent (11-of-23) from the field and committed only four miscues. Those numbers would deteriorate only slightly in the second 16 minutes.
Dowdy extended the run to 12-1 with a layup on an in-bounds play early in the third quarter. Bulldog Abby Waddle’s wide-open three then cut it to 33-25, but the Dogs never got any closer.
Dowdy slithered inside and scooped in a layup. Morrow drove the lane twice, was fouled both times and hit three of the four freebies to make it 38-25 at 4:15. Morrow’s interception and buzzer-beating layup made it 44-29 after three.
Elida out-rebounded Van Wert 11-3 in the fourth quarter, allowing the Dogs to get within ten at 49-39 with 2:42 left, but again, it was Morrow who came up with the big plays. She muscled in a layup and hit the and-one. She then assisted with a back-door pass to Kaitlynn Hall and hit four more free throws in four tries to put it away.
Van Wert not only won all four quarters, but was also dominant in all the statistical categories — except the boards, won by Elida 26-18. The Cougs were more accurate from the field at 43 percent (20-of-46) to 37 percent (15-of-41), and from the line — 82 percent (14-of-17) to 60 percent (6-of-10). Van Wert had only 12 turnovers, while Elida had 24.
Morrow and Dowdy led Van Wert scoring with 22 and 11. Waddle and Torie McAdams had 10 apiece for Elida.
Elida (4-9) won the junior varsity game 46-44 in overtime.
Van Wert’s Ally Jackson hit three treys in the last three minutes of regulation to send the game into the extra period. In the overtime, however, the Bulldogs outscored the Cougars 5-3.
All of Elida’s overtime points came on free throws, while Van Wert’s three came on Jackson’s fourth bomb of the game. Van Wert (6-8) was led in scoring by Emma Kohn’s 18, but she fouled out early in the overtime. The Bulldogs hit 20-of-42 free throws while Van Wert was 5-of-10.
Score by quarters:
Elida 9 13 7 11- 40
Van Wert 12 19 13 14- 58
Downton 7, Waddle 10, McAdams 10, Kuhn 2, Lowry 0, Pauff 1, Nolan 2, Stetler 7, Carter 1, Hurst 0, Etzler 0
Van Wert (58)
Jones 8, Hall 4, Dowdy 11, Butler 2, Morrow 22, Dunlap 4, Handy 6, Moonshower 0, Bair 1, Weigle 0, Kohn 0, Eutsler 0