By Dave Wagner
The young Elida boys basketball team found itself in over its head early Monday night.
Faith Triumphant erased a 2-0 deficit with 12 consecutive points, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers by senior guard Luis McCain, and the Conquerors rolled to a 66-46 win over the Tigers at the FTCS gym.
McCain scored 23 points and junior post Caleb Richards added 22 for Faith Triumphant (3-0), which fought off a brief rally by the Tigers (0-1) in the third quarter before pulling away for good.
“We got our tail kicked by a better team,” said Elida coach Darrell Chenault, whose 13-man roster includes eight freshmen and three sophomores. “We’ve got to go home and improve.
“We’ve got to get more mature. We do too much standing and looking.”
With the 6-foot-2 Richards dominating around the basket, the Conquerors raced to a 28-10 lead with a minute left in the half before Elida mounted a comeback.
The Tigers scored seven points in the final minute of the half, including freshman Wesley Gilmore’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer, and pulled to 35-27 with 3 1/2 minutes gone in the third quarter.
But following a timeout by FTCS, the Conquerors went on an 11-0 run to erase any doubt.
“I told them what I tell them every day in practice — ‘Get the ball to the big man (Richards),’” Faith Triumphant coach Shawn Kelly said.
McCain went cold for a while after his early trifectas, but eventually finished with five 3-pointers in the contest.
“I’m kind of like that sometimes,” McCain said. “I probably shouldn’t have taken some of those 3s, but that happens.”
He said the Tigers surprised his team a bit.
“They’re tougher than we thought they’d be,” McCain said. “They played a good game, but our defense really stepped up in the second half.”
Despite the relatively easy win, Kelly said the Conquerors were far from flawless.
“We turned the ball over way too much (25 times, compared with 26 for Elida),” he said. “And even though we didn’t shoot many free throws, we didn’t shoot them well (0-for-4).”
Gilmore led Elida with 17 points while guard Dylan Radcliff, the Tigers’ only senior, added 14.
The teams have a rematch scheduled for Dec. 13 in Elida.
Faith Triumphant 66, Elida 46
Elida (0-1) — Dylan Radcliff 14, Ever Varela 2, Thomas West 2, Tom Sullivan 4, Trenton Chenault 2, Wesley Gilmore 17, Caleb Widener 3, Aaron Roberts 2. Totals 19 7-13 46.
Faith Triumphant (3-0) — Caleb Richards 22, Luis McCain 23, Tim Smith 8, Eric Cathey 2, Seth Pearson 9, Jake Jones 2. Totals 30 0-4 66.
Elida 6 11 13 16 — 46
Faith Triumphant 18 10 22 16 — 66
3-pointers — Elida (1): Gilmore; Faith Triumphant (6): McCain 5, Pearson.