Wauseon's Carter Bzovi, above, raises the regional championship trophy after Saturday's game at Savage Arena. At right, Wauseon coach Chad Burt is hugged by Brooks Gype, who made two important free throws with 22 seconds remaining in regulation and seven
The last time the Wauseon boys basketball team made a trip to the state final four, it was 1994 and Chad Burt was leading the way on the court. Twenty-three years later he’s taking the Indians back as the head coach.
His team defeated Elida 54-45 Saturday in an overtime thriller at Savage Arena in the Division II regional final.
“It’s truly an unbelievable feeling,” Burt said while his players cut down the net behind him. “From the coaching side and the player side I understand the preparation it takes to get here. I’m so proud of my guys, I have a great group of kids that have been a pleasure to coach.”
IN PICTURES: Wauseon 54, Elida 45
Burt had a stressful three minutes at the end of regulation when he saw an eight-point Wauseon lead turn into a two-point deficit. Wauseon junior Brooks Gype stepped to the free-throw line with 22 seconds left down by two. Gype has been spending extra time with Burt after practice working on free-throw shooting to break from a slump.
He made both, then turned to his coach to say, “That’s cash, coach.”
“Shooting is all about confidence,” Gype said. “I had to move on from earlier misses and step up with confidence. It felt great.”
Baylen Stinson, who led Elida with 17 points, scored a quick seven points off turnovers during the late run at the end of the fourth quarter. Elida coach Denny Thompson said early foul trouble for Stinson hurt his team in the first half.
“He’s been our inspirational leader, he’s our intensity guy,” Thompson said. “We couldn’t muster any offense so we had to get it from our defense. Our kids did a good job putting on the pressure.”
All of the Elida points in the last three minutes came off Wauseon turnovers. Calan Henderson made a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs with 1:42 left to tie the game at 40. On the next Bulldog possession Stinson scored again, giving Elida its first lead of the game.
In overtime Austin Rotroff took over for Wauseon. He scored a game-high 24 points, but none more important than five points in the first 45 seconds of overtime. That gave Wauseon control, and Gype sealed it with seven free throws in overtime. He finished with 17 points.
Rotroff scored eight of the first 10 Wauseon points to open the game as the Indians took a 10-4 advantage. They never trailed until the final minutes.
“I had confidence in every one of my shots, and my teammates were giving me the ball in good spots, which is what made that happen,” Rotroff said.
Thompson said it was pick your poison with Wauseon. He decided to try to take away some perimeter shooters, but it opened up things for Rotroff.
Wauseon advances to the state semifinals, which will be played at 10:45 a.m. Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus against Columbus Eastmoor Academy.
“It’s shocking,” Gype said. “I’m speechless. It’s every kid’s dream to get to states. It is a honor to be one of the last four teams playing.”
Wauseon head coach Chad Burt is hugged by Brooks Gype as they celebrate their win over Elida. THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH