FINDLAY When Lima Bath's Taren Sullivan launched a 3-pointer that was off the mark with about 6:20 to play, the Upper Sandusky student section chanted, "Please stop shooting."
If only they had thought of that about an hour earlier, not that the 6-foot-6 senior standout would have obliged.
Nine seconds later, Sullivan knocked down his career-best eighth 3-pointer of the night and gave the Ram youth a playful shush sign.
Upper Sandusky’s Wes Vent brings the ball up the sideline under pressure from Lima Bath’s Hayden Adkins, as his coaching staff look on from the bench. Vent scored 11 points for the Rams, who fell to Lima Bath 76-56 in the Division II District Semifinals in Findlay. Atkins had 12 points for the Wildcats, who advance to face Elida in the finals Saturday.
Upper Sandusky's Seth Frey (25) takes a shot as he drifts past Hayden Atkins of Lima Bath. Frey had 17 points to pace the Rams on offense Wednesday night.
The long-range game was part of a 32-point, seven-assist package for Sullivan in leading the Wildcats to a 76-56 win in a Division II district semifinal at Liberty-Benton High School.
Bath will take a 19-4 record into Saturday night's all-Western Buckeye League final against league co-champion Elida. The Bulldogs (21-3) advanced by downing Kenton 60-47 in Tuesday's opening semifinal.
"Going in I said to (his team), we've got to hope that Sullivan misses some deep 3s," Upper Sandusky coach Jeff Winslow said after his club closed the year at 12-12.
"I didn't want to go up there and have him post up and driving all night long," he said. "So let's have a hand out and make him shoot three feet behind the line. Well, he did. He was the difference in the game. He was just a beast."
"He makes me a good coach," Bath's Doug Davis said. "He played very well tonight. I guess those who haven't seen him play got a look at what he's capable of. That line is just a suggestion for him."
It was that way for everyone early in the game. Bath's first seven shots were 3-point attempts with Colin Gossard hitting one and Sullivan a pair in a 9-4 Wildcat start.
Meanwhile, the Wildcat pressure game was giving the Rams trouble. They worked Upper Sandusky for six turnovers in the first quarter, 12 in the first half and 19 for the game.
"We haven't really faced a whole lot of that type of pressure and they're so long," Winslow said. "That's what kills you. You think you can make the pass and they've got 30-foot arms that stick out and just all of a sudden hit it.
"We're not used to that and it's tough to simulate in practice when you've got a bunch of alligator-armed kids," he said. "They're really good at that and their length gave us trouble."
Despite the turnovers, the Rams were in it early in the second period when a drive by Seth Frey and a putback by Wes Vent trimmed the Wildcat lead to 22-18 with 7:03 to play in the half.
But Sullivan and Gossard played key roles in a 16-4 burst that put the Wildcats in command. Sullivan hit a couple 3-pointers and then had three straight assists for baskets, two by Gossard.
Gossard (16 points, six rebounds, six assists) had a couple feeds, including a crowd-pleasing alley-oop pass off the glass for a Sullivan slam on the way to a 42-25 Wildcat edge at the half.
The Rams hit 7-of-10 from the field in the first period and 12-of-20 at the break and yet they were pretty much out of it.
"I thought, in the first half, we played really well," Winslow said. "I mean, we're down whatever but we played really well. We just let (Sullivan) get a few too many open ones and a few too many offensive rebounds."
Sullivan, who will play at University of Findlay next year, hit two more 3-pointers in a 12-0 Bath burst in the third period before canning the silencer early in the fourth.
"Yeah, I heard it," Sullivan said of the chant. "As long as my teammates don't tell me to stop shooting. Of course, they don't. They're the most unselfish players I could play with and the ball just kept falling for me."
Hayden Atkins added 12 points for the Wildcats, who have lost two previous meetings with Elida. Last year, Bath topped Elida three times.
Seth Frey led the Rams with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
"Seth has been just a monster the whole second half of the season. He's just had a real nice second half," Winslow said. "He's fearless. He's not scared of anything. Nothing bothers him and he's been pretty steady. I figured he'd have a game like that."
Freshman Vent added 11 points and Brad Roeder pitched in nine for the Rams.