On a night when both teams struggled to score for long stretches, Wauseon used a coach Chad Burt staple, points off the offensive glass — namely 11 of them in the second half — to come back to defeat Evergreen 40-34 on the road in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball Friday night.
The win kept the Indians in a first-place tie with Archbold in the race for the league title in the NWOAL. Both teams sit at 4-0.
“It’s a funny year on a number of levels obviously,” explained Burt. “It’s one of those years where I think a number of teams came into the season thinking they could win a league title and I still think it’s that way. I wouldn’t be shocked if one loss gets a share of this thing or wins it. We talk every week is a league championship game, there’s no room for error so we play for a league title every night and that’s the way I think you have to approach it.”
Jonas Tester’s second-chance hoop and triple in the first quarter offset Evan Lumbrezer’s three-point play and a hoop from Jake Fuller to keep the Indians even at the 4:10 mark, 7-7.
Isaac Wilson’s bucket off a turnover gave the Tribe a two-point lead but Lumbrezer’s pull-up jumper and Ethan Loeffler’s lob to RJ Shunck with 42 seconds left gave Evergreen an 11-9 advantage at the break.
In the second the Vikings controlled the glass as the Indians went one-and-done most of the quarter with Wilson’s putback the only Wauseon field goal in 11 tries.
Meanwhile, Loeffler and Shunck got inside for three scores, Austin Lumbrezer scored on a back cut and Evan Lumbrezer’s second-chance basket pushed the Vikes on top 24-15 at halftime.
The Vikings had a six board advantage on the glass at the half, but that would soon change in the third quarter.
Tester hit a baseline jumper off a second chance, and Connar Penrod tripled to slice the Viking lead to 24-20.
Evan Lumbrezer’s three-point play regained a seven point margin but Wilson countered with a three-point play off the offensive boards. Tester added yet another second-chance hoop, then a floater from the right side to knot the game back up at 27-27.
Evan Lumbrezer’s long triple at the third quarter horn again gave the Vikes the lead but Evergreen went stone cold in the fourth.
Kolton DeGroff scored off a weakside long rebound, then Wilson gave Wauseon the lead with 7:12 to go off an out-of-bounds play.
“We kind of live that,” Burt said about his team’s work on the offensive boards. “We are not the best shooting team around and our guys kind of understand that. They are very good at getting to the offensive boards and I thought that showed itself in the second half.”
The Vikings could only score four Evan Lumbrezer free throws in the fourth, and Penrod’s second triple gave Wauseon a four-point lead with three minutes left at 36-32.
The Indians didn’t make many of their free throw chances down the stretch, but they made enough as Evergreen misfired five more times before the final horn.
“It was a great game plan by (Evergreen) coach (Jerry) Keifer in the first half; we gave up too much stuff at the rim,” said Burt. “They are really long and they got us on some run-outs and converted some easy baskets.
“In the second half we stopped some of those easy baskets and settled in defensively and were able to make some stops which I think was big.”
Wauseon shot 15-39 from the floor and Evergreen was 12-24 after going 10-15 in the first half.
After having a six board edge at the half, Evergreen only outrebounded the Indians 19-17 as the Tribe got 11 on the offensive end.
Evan Lumbrezer had a game-high 17 points for Evergreen, now 12-4 on the year.
Wilson and Tester each had 13 for Wauseon. The Indians added a 61-50 win at Springfield Saturday to improve to 14-2 on the year.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com.