BATH TOWNSHIP — Elida came out and threw all its athleticism at Bath.
The Wildkittens withstood the early assault, then did what they do best: play defense and rebound.
Bath outrebounded Elida by 24 and pulled away with a 61-48 girls basketball victory in the opening round of the 13th Bath Kewpee Tipoff Classic on Friday.
In the first tournament game of the night, New Knoxville defeated Findlay, 46-34.
The consolation game will be at 6 p.m., tonight, followed by the title game of Bath against New Knoxville at around 7:30 p.m.
It was a balanced attack for Bath, with Haley Garland getting 14 points and seven rebounds. Heidi Craddock had 13 points and two 3-pointers.
“Coach (Greg) Mauk emphasized all week that we have to go strong on the boards,” Garland said.
Jaidyn Hal scored 10 for Bath, while Lindsey Singhaus had 10 points and 13 rebounds. Elysabette Andrews had seven points and 12 rebounds.
Shyah Wheeler had 25 points for Elida with five 3-pointers.
Bath continually had second and third shots at the basket, as the Wildkittens outrebounded Elida, 49-25 overall and 24-9 on the offensive glass.
“If we rebound like this, we will go 0-22,” Elida coach Chrissy Billiter said. “If we don’t have defense and rebounding, we can’t transition. … This was a good test for us, but we have to get better.”
Bath coach Greg Mauk said, “It (rebounding) was one of our key points tonight. We had to go get the rebounds so we could start our transition and we really needed to crash the offensive boards. We had 16 putback baskets. That’s the team we are. It’s something we have to be able to do all year.”
Wheeler and Hope Carter (five points) got off to hot starts to help the Bulldogs jump out to leads of 6-2 and 17-11.
Of Elida’s first 17 points, Wheeler had 10 and Carter had five.
Mauk gave Elida and Wheeler credit for shooting well early, but said his defense was a little out of sync.
“They hit those shots and they were legit,” Mauk said. “But we had two or three people playing man and two or three people playing zone. We had to call timeout and we had to get that out of our system. After that, we defended OK.”
Bath used a 12-0 run that went deep into the second quarter to pull out to a 27-20 lead. During that run, Garland had a layup and Hale hit a 3-pointer and a 12-footer.
Garland’s basket gave Bath the lead to stay, 22-20, with 5:26 left in the first half.
Craddock had 11 points in the first quarter with two 3-pointers.
“At first it was a little bit of nerves, then we hit some shots and calmed down a little bit,” Craddock said. “It all turned out pretty well for us at the end. … We tried to keep Shy (Wheeler) down, but she’s a great player.”
Bath’s full-court presses and man-to-man took hold after that and the Wildkittens’ lead grew to 41-28 with 4:40 left in the third. Hale, Singhaus, Andrews and Garland led the way down the stretch.
“It’s teamwork by committee,” Mauk said. “That’s the team we are.’’
Elida closed the gap to 43-35, but Bath went into the fourth quarter leading 47-37.
In the end, the 6-foot Garland, 5-11 Singhaus and 5-9 Andrews had their way inside and on the glass.
“We’re not going to win many games without rebounding,” Billiter said. “Garland owned us down low. Andrews owned us. We have to know if we’re not going to shoot well, we have people step up with rebounding, defense.”
New Knoxville 46,
New Knoxville led by 17 at the half and went on to notch a victory over Findlay.
New Knoxville guard Kenzie Schroer, who was first team all-Midwest Athletic Conference last year, led the Rangers with 15 points. Ashlyn Miller had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Megan Jurosic, a 6-foot freshman, added eight points and eight rebounds.
Findlay was led by Allison Taylor, who had 13 points and three 3-pointers.
The Rangers went on a 9-0 second-quarter run to pull out to a 28-11 lead. They led 31-14 at the half.
New Knoxville won the boards, 28-23.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.