Wauseon crashed the boards hard, especially in the second half, helping them to a 52-36 win over visiting Swanton in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball Friday night.
Both coaches referenced the importance of rebounding in the postgame.
“The difference was them on the offensive glass. We talked about it all week, and we just did not match their physicality. We got pushed around. There was nothing we could do about it. We got pushed around underneath and we lost on the glass; we lost the game because of that,” said Swanton mentor Joel Visser.
“Swanton’s really good. They’ve got really good offensive players,” stated Wauseon coach Chad Burt. “They are very long and active and athletic defensively. And I thought they did a great job defending us. I don’t know exactly what our rebounding numbers were, but we talked about that going into the game being a big key for us. And it’s been a big key for us all year. Good news/bad news is, we don’t shoot it very well, that’s the bad news, the good news is our guys know that we don’t shoot it very well and they’re committed to going and getting it (the rebound). Just a really good team win. I thought we were solid across the board.”
The Indians were led by their two playmaking guards, Connar Penrod and Jonas Tester, who finished with 17 points each. Penrod scored 11 of his 17 in the first half — all in the first quarter — while Tester had 13 second half points.
“Obviously our offense kind of runs through those two guys. They’re gonna get the majority of the shots,” said Burt. “We’ve talked on and off throughout the year that, they’re gonna get a lot of shots but I think how they get them is really critical. I think they’ve learned, as the season progresses, that they’re trusting their teammates more. We’re doing a better job of screening for them. I thought early in the year they both pressed a little bit — maybe forced some shots. So again, it’s a learning process and that’s part of progressing through the season.”
Near the end of the opening quarter, Penrod tallied eight straight points to grab an 11-6 lead. The Bulldogs brought it to 11-9 at the end of the frame when Josh Vance drilled a 3-pointer at the 1:14 mark.
Swanton tied the score 11 seconds into the second when Trent Weigel was found open for a basket inside.
“Energy was good. We were ready to play,” said Visser of his team’s start to the contest. “Game plan I felt good about. And the kids did too. We just didn’t knock down shots; we didn’t get a third scorer going tonight for us. They doubled pretty hard on Thornton and Vance down on the post.
“We just didn’t make shots. And when you don’t rebound, and you give them three and four opportunities, they’re too good to do that.”
Kolton DeGroff knocked down a three for the Indians to put them back on top, and they never looked back from there.
Following an Andrew Thornton fadeaway jumper for Swanton, Wauseon responded with an Easton Delgado floater, Jude Armstrong’s layup and DeGroff’s bucket off a Delgado assist for a 20-13 lead with 3:28 left in the half.
The Dogs hit a pair of threes over the final three plus minutes, one by Weigel and another from Vance. However, four points from Tester and a hoop by Armstrong off a steal kept the Indians up by seven, 26-19, at the half.
Tester then took charge in the third quarter for the Indians.
But first, a Thornton score inside for Swanton put the margin at 30-22. Tester then scored on a hard drive to the hoop. He also converted a pass from Penrod, plus the junior guard added 1 of 2 free throws for a 13-point Wauseon advantage at the 4:13 mark of the third.
The Dogs were able to use six Thornton points plus a pair of Vance free throws to trim the deficit at 38-30 with just under two minutes left. But another Tester drive and score made the margin 10 at the quarter break.
“I think as a whole tonight, a couple possessions in particular, I thought we did a good job of spacing,” said Burt. “I thought we did a good job of player movement and ball movement. And then, a couple times I think Jonas had a three-point play kind of down the right wing. Where I think he attacked very appropriately. I think that’s a prime example of trusting your teammates. It (the play) was after six, eight, to maybe even 10 passes.”
That play came with 4:25 remaining in regulation, but Tester would miss the tack on free throw, making the Indian lead 44-30.
Wauseon ended up winning by 16.
Leading Swanton in scoring were Thornton with 18 points and Vance with 12. The Dogs were home the next night where they defeated Genoa 45-33.
Swanton (8-6, 2-1 NWOAL) next hosts Liberty Center this Friday before traveling to Maumee Saturday. Wauseon (12-2, 3-0) is at Evergreen Friday and Springfield Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.