WAUSEON - The Wauseon boys basketball team used several numbers games to claim a 67-47 win over Evergreen in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League opener for both schools last night.
One was the number of quality players the Indians used in the victory. Wauseon got 24 points from Richard Russell and 23 from Kevin Elson, as well as production from five other players, to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Another number that went against the Vikings was Wauseon's shooting percentage as the Indians made 27 of 47, or 57.4 percent, of their shots from the floor.
But those number problems stemmed from the Vikings' biggest number problem of all.
Junior center Brock Bates guarded Wauseon's 6-6 Elliott Mealer, but that left Evergreen no one to cover the 6-6 Russell.
"They matched up the Bates kid with Elliott, and that left them with a mismatch on Richard," Wauseon coach Ken Burgei said.
"It was neat that our kids bought into looking for Russell and getting him the ball."
Evergreen led 16-15 at the end of the first quarter, but Wauseon used a 12-2 run at the start of the second period to build a 37-26 halftime advantage. Elson hit two of his four 3-pointers and had 10 points in the second quarter.
"Our game plan was to pick it inside to take away the high-low," Evergreen coach Jerry Keifer said. "Elson just killed us [shooting] in the first half. We had to come out and guard him, and then they hurt us with the high-low with Mealer and Russell."
Elson, who also had 14 points in his team's season-opening win against Archbold, spent the pre-season preparing for just such an opportunity.
"I knew teams would pack it in because we're so big, so I knew I'd get some open looks," he said. "I just have to step up and hit some shots."
In the third quarter Evergreen twice cut the Indians' lead to nine points before Wauseon used a late 10-point spurt to make the score 52-40 at the end of the period. Then an eight-point run by the Indians early in the final quarter sealed the decision.
Wauseon's runs in the second and third quarters came when Scott Burgard, a reserve on the varsity last season, came onto the floor. He scored six of the eight points from the Indians' bench and also had four rebounds.
"He's got some length, and he attacks the basket well," Burgei said of Burgard. "I was pleased that he played with a little more confidence.
"I thought all of our guys coming off the bench - especially Matt Bost, Tyler Hinkle and Burgard - gave us good production."
Evergreen saw three players reach double figures, led by 16 points and seven rebounds by Bates. Chad Mossing and Corey Truckor added 11 and 10, respectively, for the 1-2 Vikings, who had only seven players with extended minutes. No one off the bench scored for Evergreen.
"We're not deep, and they kept running kids onto the floor," Keifer said of the Indians. "There were times, especially in the second half, when we just looked tired. There's nothing we can do about that - our depth is our depth."
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