BOWLING GREEN – The Toledo Rogers Rams came back from a first half nine-point deficit to defeat Wauseon 45-40 in a Division II Bowling Green District semifinal contest.
The Indians’ fine tuned offense, anchored by 6-8 sophomore center Austin Rotroff, jumped out to a 17-8 first quarter lead as the big man dunked and laid in 11 first-quarter points.
The pace slowed in the second quarter but two free throws by Rotroff and a put back by Luke Rychener gave the Indians their biggest lead of the game at 21-10. But at that point the change in momentum began to take place at the Rams closed to with in five at 21-16 with a make from Vonte Middleton. The Indians responded with baskets from Carter Bzovi and Rotroff as the first half came to an end with the Indians holding a 25-16 lead.
The question for the Roger Rams at the half had to be ‘what must we do to stop their big man’? The question was answered in the third quarter as Rotroff dealt with double teams about every time on Wauseon’s offensive end.
After a Wauseon turnover started the third quarter, Rogers’ Christian Smith sank a three-pointer to make the score 25-19. Wauseon maintained a seven-point advantage on the strength of Rotroff as the super soph. scored a bucket and made the front end of a two-shot foul. The tide began to turn at this point of the game with 5:51 remaining in the third quarter. A put back by Rogers’ Taquarius Belcher and a make off a Wauseon turnover by Smith closed the gap to 28-25 as the Rams started to smell blood. It was Rotroff again carrying the team on his shoulders making it a 30-25 lead. A three-pointer from Belcher closed the lead to two points and at the 3:11 mark of the third quarter Smith tied the game at 30-30 with a short jumper.
The quarter came to an end with a Bzovi lay up that saw the Indians still on top after three at 32-30.
Wauseon’s other talented sophomore, Brooks Gype, who got into foul trouble early, entered the fourth quarter and got two points as the Indians had a little breathing room at 34-30 as the last eight minutes began. During the final stretch the Rams were able to take Rotroff out of the game and take charge. A Smith make made it a 34-32 contest then a big three-point bomb by Belcher put the Rams up for the first time of the night at 35-34 with 5:31 remaining. After Luke Rychener’s two missed foul shots, Cameron Copeland cashed in with two points to give the Rams a 37-34 lead. Bzovi went to the foul line making the first but missing the second. Wauseon’s Chase Brock fought for the rebound and the ball came back to Bzovi who scored close to the basket to complete the three-point play as the game was tied at 37-37. Rogers responded as Dru Pettigrew nailed a three-pointer from the right side with 1:41 left and the Rams were up again by three at 40-37. Rogers made the next basket of the quarter as well when Copeland gave his team a 42-37 lead with 1:17 remaining.
The Rams resulting 8-0 run was too much for the Indians to overcome as Bzovi made a consolation lay up as the game came to an end.
The Wauseon faithful certainly have exciting times ahead with the youth that the team represents. Back next season will be Carter Bzovi, Austin Rotroff and Brooks Gype for a nucleus that will be the envy of the league.
In his first district competition, Rotroff finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Indians. Bzovi added 15 points and four rebounds. The glowing stat that aided in the Indians departure from the tournament was the fact that they were six of 18 from the foul line.
TOLEDO ROGERS 45, WAUSEON 40
A.Rotroff 8-0-5—21; L. Rychener, 1-0-0—2; C. Bzovi, 4-2-1—15; B. Gype, 1-0-0 —2 . TOTAL: 14-2-6 – 40.
- Smith, 4-1-1-—12; C. Copeland, 5-1-0—13; T. Belcher, 1-2-3—11; A. Stenson, 1-0-0—2; R. Henderson, 1-0-0—2; D. Pettigrew 0-1-0 —3; V. Middleton, 1-0-0 — 2 . TOTAL: 13-5-4—45.