Wildcats Lose to Defiance
Throughout the season, Bath has had trouble scoring points and it came back to haunt the Wildcats in their 41-40 loss to Defiance in the Division II Northwest sectional opening round Tuesday night.
The hard- luck shooting Wildcats toughest miss came in the final seconds of the game with Defiance leading 41-40 with 6.5 seconds left.
With the ball, Bath’s Chad Frey went up for a short jumper but the ball hit the front of the rim and the buzzer sounding signaling the end of the game and the Wildcats’ season.
Defiance (12-10) advances to a game against Wapakoneta Friday at 8 p.m. Bath ends its year at 4-19.
Defiance head coach Kirk Lehman said a switch from man-to-man to zone helped the Bulldogs erase an early deficit and also jump start their offense.
“We had to go zone and hope for the best,” Lehman said. “Luckily we rebounded pretty well out of the zone. Our thought our press helped in the second half. What a gutty effort by our guys.”
Bath head coach Shawn Allen said unforced turnovers and not being able to convert free throws down the stretch were two big reasons Bath struggled down the stretch. For the game, Bath was 2-of-10 from the free throw line.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Allen said. “Our practices have been good all year. They didn’t show any signs of not being interested and willing to work hard. But this is certainly a tough one to swallow.”
Early in the game it was all Bath and even though they really weren’t shooting the lights out, opened up a 24-7 lead with 6:50 left in the first half.
But the Bulldogs, who were also having trouble scoring, outscored Bath, 19-1, for the remainder of the first half to close the gap to 26-18.
Bath’s inconsistent shooting continued into the second half and Defiance outscored the Wildcats 9-3 in the first four minutes to close the gap to 29-27 with two minutes left in the third period. Going into the final period, Bath owned a 31-27 lead
Bath continued to stay one bucket ahead of Defiance in the fourth quarter and with 4:16 left in the game, the Wildcats held a slim 36-31 lead. But them Mike Menendez made his presence known.
The Bulldog senior guard, who had four points for the game, buried a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two. Bath countered with a bucket from Harrison Gough, but on Defiance’s next possession, Menendez popped another trey to cut the lead to one, 38-37 with 2:12 left in the game.
Menendez then gave Defiance the lead when he hit is seventh point of the quarter, but Ryan Gossard, with 38 seconds left, regained the lead for Bath with a basket, 40-39, with 38 seconds left in the game.
Defiance took the lead back when Josef Kanough scored a bucket with 15.1 seconds left to give Defiance the 41-40 lead.
“Menendez is running on fumes,” Lehman said. “We ask so much from that guy. Those last two shots that went in he put a little extra in those legs of his.”
Menendez finished the game with a team-high 14 points and Kanough added 12 points.
For Bath, Frey pumped in 16 points and Gossard chipped in 11