BATH TOWNSHIP — Western Buckeye League champions, again.
Bath won its 17th WBL girls basketball championship and fourth in a row with a convincing 66-40 victory over Elida Thursday at Bath.
“I think what I’m proud of is a lot of people looked at what we lost from last year from graduation and I think a lot of people thought maybe this was the year that Bath doesn’t play quite as well,” Bath coach Greg Mauk said. “And our kids really responded to that.”
Bath’s Madison Dackin led the way with 15 points and had three 3-pointers. She knocked down two threes in the first quarter when she posted nine points.
Danielle VanDyne had 12 points and five rebounds. Ellie Dackin had 11 points and six rebounds for Bath.
Bath ran out to an 18-6 first-quarter lead. The Wildkittens led 35-14 at the half and were never challenged after that.
“This means a lot,” Dackin said of the WBL title. “We’re the second team to win four in a row and that’s an awesome feeling and hopefully next year we can break the record and go farther.”
Bath started the game with 3-pointers by Madison Dackin and VanDyne. Dackin hit another 3-pointer and Audrey Brandon hit a follow shot.
That gave Bath a quick 11-2 lead.
When Madison Dackin converted a three-point play, Bath’s first-quarter lead grew to 16-6.
Bath used both a man and a 1-2-2 press to cause havoc with the Elida offense. Bath forced Elida into 21 first-half turnovers and 27 for the game.
With Bath gobbling up turnovers, it began converting them into transition baskets.
Bath won the boards, 32-21 overall and 15-1 on the offensive glass.
Madison Dackin has led the way for the Wildkittens most of the season with her improved shooting touch from the outside and also her ability to drive to the basket.
“Coach always has us come in and shoot in the summer and that’s we did,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to get to the hole strong and learn how to finish and keep getting better at it every day.”
Added Mauk, “The transformation that she’s made, from the time she’s a freshman and sophomore to now, is her perimeter shooting has improved drastically. She’s a good player at this point and a really great weapon on the wing for us.”
For VanDyne, a 6-1 senior, this was her first year of basketball since grade school. She ended up contributing with her offense and her shot-blocking ability.
“It’s amazing,” VanDyne said. “I couldn’t ask for a better season. We’ve gone above and beyond everything I expected.”
VanDyne originally planned to play vollleyball in college, but said she’s changed her mind.
“I’m going to stick with basketball (in college),” she said. “I’m not going to do volleyball.”
Right now she’s looking at Ohio Northern and Otterbein.
Added Mauk, “She really enjoys watching basketball and she picks up little things just from watching. And you can tell by the way she plays the game that she has a knack for it because of her knowledge of the game.”
Bath is 17-3, 9-0 in the WBL. Elida is 9-12, 4-5 in the WBL.
Bath played without the services of usual starter 6-foot Bri Smith, who suffered a sprained knee in practice this week. She’s expected to play on Saturday.
Bath wraps up the regular season with a makeup game against Marion Local at Bath on Saturday. The junior varsity game will tipoff at noon.
After Saturday, it’s on to the tournament for Bath.
“This gives us a lot of momentum going into the tournament,” Madison Dackin said.
Mauk said, “This was our fourth game in eight days and Marion Local will be our fifth game in 10 days. I hope we can grow from those experiences (losses) to Perrysburg and Fort Loramie. They didn’t turn out the way we’d like them to, but if we get better from it, that’s what it’s all about.”