The Waynesfield-Goshen Tigers got a taste of some big-time competition Thursday on the opening night of the Vicki Mauk Holiday Invitational, hosted by Elida High School.
The young Tigers learned they are not quite ready to feel comfortable in a tournament atmosphere against bigger schools, as the Elida Bulldogs ran past the Tigers in the second half en route to a 70-57 victory Thursday in varsity girls basketball action.
The game was tied 23-23 at halftime, and then Elida owned the third period, outscoring W-G by a whopping 17 points.
The Bulldogs totaled 28 points in the third period after scoring 23 in the first half.
Even with a break during halftime, Elida seemed to wear down W-G almost immediately in the second half.
“We came down and quit running the offense,” W-G varsity coach Ted Patton said. “We’d shoot a 3 and next thing you know they’d running for a layup.
“Elida is good in transition, and we weren’t getting back. They got quite a few decent shots out of transition.”
The Bulldogs actually outscored W-G by those 17 points in the final 6 minutes of the third period, as the game was tied at 30-30 with 6:02 to go in the period.
Elida’s lead increased to 21 points early in the fourth period.
Trailing 61-41, the Tigers made a slight rally to cut it to 13 points with the help of a 10-3 run.
“A little bit of that youth got us tonight, starting the youth we are,” Patton said. “On that big stage, sometimes that youth shows up too much. We didn’t take care of the basketball like we should, and we didn’t shoot the ball like we should. We didn’t play our game.”
W-G starts two freshmen and a sophomore, and although the Tigers managed to be competitive in the first half, they were still showing signs of experience.
The win Elida gained Thursday was much-needed, both in the short- and long-term future.
The Bulldogs were a team struggling to maintain leads in games this season.
Plus, the program had not reached the championship game of the annual tournament in about a decade.
“This was the first game we actually showed some mental toughness,” Elida varsity co-coach Chrissy Billiter said Thursday. “The girls just needed this statement win for our program and for this year.
“They actually refused to lose today. That’s the first time we’ve seen that all year.”
Elida’s Kylie Downton scored 15 points in Thursday’s game, all in the first three periods.
Abby Waddle also had 15 points for the Bulldogs, shooting 8 of 12 from the free-throw line.
The Tigers were led by Emily Patton’s 15 points, which included 8 for 8 from the charity stripe.
Kiersten Wilcox added 14 points for W-G.
The Tigers entered the tournament among three significantly larger schools.
Lima Senior, which will face Elida tonight in the tournament championship, is a Division I school with 368 girls enrolled.
Sylvania Southview, which will meet W-G tonight in the consolation game, is also a Division I school with almost 400 more girls enrolled than W-G.
Elida is a Division II school with 285 girls.
The tournament, however, is exactly what W-G signed up for.
The Tigers have been looking for ways to increase the difficulty of their schedule.
“We’ve really strengthened our schedule this year,” Patton said. “This is one of the reasons we’re in this (tournament). We’re probably a year away from competing in this, but we want this.
“This is what we need to get better. We’re not real strong in our league, so we need to go outside our league to get stronger.”