Perennial power Bath crushes Van Wert 62-32

VAN WERT – The Lima Bath girls basketball team is always loaded with talent – 18 Western Buckeye League titles (Ottawa-Glandorf is second with nine), and they haven't finished lower than third since the 1990-91 season. This year is no exception as the Wildkittens are now 16-4 overall and 6-2 in the WBL after pounding Van Wert 62-32 Thursday night.

Bath took charge early, thanks to the incredible shooting of senior Jaidyn Hale, who scored 16 first-quarter point without missing a shot, including four 3-pointers. The Wildkittens led 24-10 after one.

Hale landed another triple for her 19th point with 4:51 left in the second quarter, then took a seat on the bench for the remainder of the period. She still hadn't missed a shot. Bath led 38-15 at the half, during which the Kittens shot 50 percent (13 of 26) from the field, including 5 of 12 from three, all the makes and none of the misses by Hale. 

The Cougars, unable to penetrate Bath's 2-3 zone for good shots, were at 22 percent (5 of 23) from the field, including 3 of 11 from long range. Sophomore Caylee Phillips already had 8 points, including two banked-in 3-pointers from the right wing. Van Wert had 9 turnovers in the first 16 minutes, a problem that they would correct in the second half.

Although Bath stuck with the zone in the third quarter, the Cougars were able to get the ball inside for plenty of close shots. However, they missed a lot of those attempts, going only 5 of 19 from the field. Junior post Abby Jackson had three of those five successes. The Cougs committed only one turnover in the third quarter. 

Hale took only one shot in the third period, a back door layup for her 21st point at 6:06, and she took a seat on the bench shortly thereafter. Bath was only 3 for 9 from the field during those eight minutes but maintained the big lead -- 50-26 -- by hitting 5 of 10 free throws.

Both teams were cold from the field in the fourth quarter -- Van Wert 2 for 12, Bath 2 for 6 -- but the Wildkittens were 6 of 8 from the line to help stretch the lead to the final 62-32. Hale played briefly at the start of the fourth quarter, and she finally missed a field goal try, her only one of the game. She also missed 1 of 2 free throws, ending an impressive night with 22 points, although playing only slightly more than half of the game.

For the game as a whole, Bath was much better from the field -- 44 percent (18 of 41) to 22 percent (12 of 54) -- and from beyond the arc -- 37 percent (7 for 19) to 21 percent (4 for 19). The Wildkittens shot many more free throws -- 19 of 29 (66 percent) -- to the Cougars' 4 of 7 (57 percent).

Bath had a 33-27 rebounding edge, and Van Wert had one less turnover, 11-12. The Cougs only had two miscues in the entire second half.

Hale was the only Bath player in double digits with her 22. Senior post Elysabette Andrews added 9. Bath used 15 players, and ten of them scored. Phillips and Jackson led the Van Wert scoring with 8 apiece.

Van Wert was without junior starter Reagan Priest who was out with an illness.