A disappointing league outing was followed by a stirring comeback in Saturday’s non-league contest for the Defiance boys basketball team and the Bulldogs are hoping for more of the latter and less of the former when it comes to the upcoming weekend’s dual slate of games.
Following a 32-29 slugfest of a win against Wauseon Saturday, the Bulldogs (6-4, 1-2 WBL) will get another shot at a weekend sweep, welcoming in Elida (5-7, 1-2 WBL) on Friday before traveling to 7-5 Fairview on Saturday.
Elida at Defiance
Friday’s previous foray into Western Buckeye League action finished in disappointing fashion as Kenton pulled away in the final few minutes for a 48-39 win over the Bulldogs, the first such win by the Wildcats since 2011-12.
The 39-point output marked the second-lowest all season to that point, now the third behind the 32 points on Saturday against Wauseon and the 36 put up in a two-point win over Bryan on Dec. 14.
“I think each game’s its own separate entity,” said Defiance coach Kirk Lehman of the Bulldogs’ recent offensive woes. “In the Wauseon game, there’s a lot less possessions with the pace the game was played. In the Kenton game, it came down to the fact that our timing wasn’t very good and our execution was not very good.”
“I think the guys on Saturday really dug down deep and hung in there against a very deliberate Wauseon team.”
The opportunity does present itself for the first back-to-back wins for Defiance since defeating Van Wert and Bryan on Dec. 13-14. However, that win will have to go through a battle-tested Elida squad that has already faced some of the area’s best.
The Bulldogs own a pair of wins over Lima Bath while also topping Spencerville in overtime, defending regional runner-up Coldwater by one point on the road and a one-point win over Van Buren on Dec. 21.
That victory over the Black Knights also marks the last time longtime coach Denny Thompson’s squad has tasted victory as Elida enters Friday’s contest on a four-game losing skid. Losses to Division I squads Middletown and No. 8 Lima Senior (10-1) near the New Year’s holiday were followed by a double-whammy last weekend in a four-point loss to previously-winless Celina and a 69-61 OT loss to 3-10 Oregon Clay.
Despite the recent struggles, the Bulldogs have plenty to be hopeful about considering their schedule holds three single-digit losses, including a two-point loss to current D-IV No. 4 Delphos St. John’s on Dec. 7.
“Elida’s always played a very challenging schedule and to play the number of Division I teams they do, their record’s always deceiving,” said Defiance coach Kirk Lehman of the Bulldogs’ opponent, whom Defiance beat on the road 47-37 last season. “They’ve had some great offensive players through the years but boy do they play defense.
“I think traditionally, you look down throughout the years, we’ve played some low scoring games with Elida. Even the year we went to state, it was 37-35 with them. It’s going to be a grind-it-out affair (on Friday).”
Elida is led by a solid core of athletes, including 5-11 junior Quan Moore, who has tallied 15 ppg game through 10 contests this season, but missed the Celina and Clay contests. 5-10 senior guard Dylan Buetner (9.5 ppg) adds some scoring pop while Devon Barnett (6-1, Sr., 6.8 ppg) and 5-11 senior guard Riley Creps (6.2 ppg) are double-digit scoring threats as well.
Friday’s matchup for Elida will be followed by a home clash with rival Lima Central Catholic on Saturday at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Defiance at Fairview
Following Friday’s league fracas, Defiance will get its annual taste of Green Meadows Conference hoops when it travels to “The Reservation” to take on a Fairview team that has won its last two contests ahead of tonight’s home league matchup with Holgate.
The Apaches are 2-2 at home this season and 4-2 in road contests with a split at the Swanton Holiday Tournament.
Third-year coach Bodi Kauffman has utilized a balanced roster that began its season a week later following a postseason football run. The Apaches’ five losses have all come to teams with winning records, including an overtime non-league loss to 9-2 Hicksville and contests against unbeaten Antwerp and solid NWOAL squads in Wauseon and Archbold.
Fairview can boast six players averaging six points per game or better, led by 10.8 from 6-1 senior Cade Polter. Though the tallest Apache, freshman Jackson Grine (1.7 ppg), measures 6-3, the athleticism that has led to gridiron success the past few seasons has benefited the Black and Gold on the hardwood as well.
Russ Zeedyk, a 5-11 junior, adds 8.5 points and 3.2 boards per contest while adding 2.3 assists and steals per contest. Cade Ripke (5-11, Jr., 7.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.2 spg), Chayse Singer (5-10, Sr., 7.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg) and Luke Timbrook (6-0, Jr., 7.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 spg in eight games) round out the main core of the Fairview attack, one that has racked up nearly 10 steals per game.
“It’s always a good battle at their place,” noted Lehman. “We’re going to have to go out and compete because Fairview challenges you defensively. They’re a senior-dominated team, as are we, so they present that as well.
“They’re going to battle their tails off and we have to be able to match that.”
Senior Tyrel Goings continues to lead the Bulldog offense with a 12.2 ppg average and on the boards with eight caroms per contest. Will Lammers adds the No. 2 scoring punch for the Bulldogs with 10.6 points and 3.5 rebounds a game. 6-5 forward Caden Kline has come on strong in recent weeks, leading with nine points in the win over Wauseon and averaging a balanced 4.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest.
Senior guard Jack Vander Horst (4.4 ppg) and 6-5 junior wing CJ Zachrich (4.8 ppg) add another level of scoring depth.