It’s no secret that Elida needs consistent offensive help for Dakota Mathias.
On Friday night, it got exactly that.
Louis Gray came up big, by flying to the basket for 25 points.
Add Gray’s production with Mathias’ 24 points and Elida rolled past Spencerville 74-46 in a boys basketball game at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Elida is 2-1, while Spencerville is 2-1.
Gray hit 11 of 17 from the field, including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers. He scored 14 points in the second half, going 7 of 7, mostly on fast-break layups.
But the key for Elida was getting Gray going early. Spencerville went out to a 13-3 lead, as Ben Bowers hit two 3-pointers.
Gray then scored a quick eight, with two 3-pointers, to get Elida within 18-14 at the end of the quarter.
“We wanted to get our defense going to create our offense,” Gray said. “When we stepped up our defense, when the offense wasn’t scoring, we were getting down in transition and scoring easily.”
Elida coach Denny Thompson said his team wasn’t running its offense early in the game.
“We were very quick, offensively,” he said. “Tonight on our first eight possessions, we took three threes without any kind of interior touch, and we turned it over twice. We were down 10-1. …. We need patience at the offensive end.”
Elida also turned up its defensive pressure, in its man-to-man. Mathias hounded Bowers the rest of the night. Bowers finished with 11 points, while freshman Bailey Croft scored 12. Dakota Prichard scored 10 for the Bearcats.
Elida took the lead to stay 24-22 on a fast-break layup by Clark Etzler with 3:55 left in the second quarter.
Mathias’ deep 3-pointer with two seconds left in the second quarter gave Elida a 32-27 lead at the break.
“As the game wore on, we seemed to get worse and worse at the defensive end,” Spencerville coach Kevin Sensabaugh said. “We didn’t rebound as well, and things things kind of snowballed. We didn’t play our best game, and we didn’t seem to have a lot of intensity when it mattered.
“We’re not going to stop him (Mathias). Nobody is. But the problem was Louis Gray got the hole every time he wanted to. He also got open threes.”
The Purdue-bound Mathias took a number of good, quality shots in the first half, but they didn’t go down. In the third quarter, he got them to fall.
Mathias scored 12 points in the third quarter, including knocking down two 3-pointers.
“I told him (Mathias), ‘Don’t overthink it. Keep shooting and they’re going to go,’ ” Thompson said. “He’s too good of a player not to have them go.”
That helped Elida take a 53-34 after three quarters.
For the night, Mathias hit 8 of 18 from the field and was 4 of 7 on 3-pointers. He also had seven rebounds and four assists.
Marquevious Wilson added nine points and eight rebounds. Austin Allemeier scored nine for Elida.
Elida won the boards, 36-24.
“We got a lot in transition in the second half,” Thompson said. “I think Marquevious Wilson’s ability to rebound and outlet really created a lot of those things.”
Gray started the fourth quarter with two breakaway baskets, and Spencerville wasn’t able to make it close.
“Spencerville took some shots, which allowed us to get out in the break,” Gray said.
Elida was coming off a loss to Lima Central Catholic in the finals of the Tip-Off Classic.
“We wanted to come back on a good note,” Gray said. “We wanted to come back strong and continue to push forward and get ready for the WBL (Western Buckeye League).”