By SCOTT COTTOS
ELMORE –Fostoria High School’s boys basketball team looked as though it might get away from its habit of struggling in the third quarter.
Trae Anderson made an acrobatic shot from short range while falling to the floor to draw the Redmen into a 39-39 tie with Woodmore with 5:15 remaining in the third period of Tuesday night’s Northern Buckeye Conference game.
Then it all went south for FHS.
The Wildcats proceeded to go on a 19-2 run that stretched into the opening moments of the fourth quarter and went on to post a 76-52 victory.
Woodmore (7-2, 3-2 NBC) got to the basket nearly at will and made 26 of 30 2-point attempts on its way to a 31-of-42 night (73.8 percent). Drew Burner scored 20 points and Mitchell Miller added 18 for the Wildcats.
Aneas Cousin tossed in 13 points and Eli Ward came off the bench for 12 to lead the Redmen (3-8, 1-5).
“We lost that one mentally tonight,” Fostoria coach Thom Loomis said. “You can’t play two or two-and-a-half quarters of good basketball where you play solid defense and execute on offense and then decide, ‘We’re just going to quit doing that.’ Mentally, we checked out. I don’t know why.
“We played very well for about 21/4 quarters. And then we gave up a run because we stopped executing — as simple as that. They shot about 75 percent from the floor because nearly everything they shot was either in the paint or an uncontested 3. We knew that Mitchell Miller and Drew Burner were really good, and we did a really nice job on Miller for the better part of two quarters. And then we quit — just mentally checked out. I wish I had an answer for that.”
Burner scored seven of his points in Woodmore’s decisive run and Miller had four.
Ward’s basket with 7:28 left in the game made it 60-43, but the Redmen never got closer than 22 points after Logan Mierzejewski hit a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 65-43 advantage.
Burner scored 12 of his points to lead Woodmore into halftime with a 37-31 advantage. The Wildcats did not lead by more than seven in the first half as Cousin paced FHS with 11 points.
The second half then started with promise for the Redmen, but trouble wasn’t far ahead.
“That’s the story of our season,” Loomis said. “When we lose, that’s exactly what happens because mentally we aren’t tough enough to stay focused and not give in to stop executing.
“It’s not physical, it’s mental. We don’t run an offense and don’t take shots out of our offense, so no one knows that the shot’s coming and we’re not in position for an offensive rebound. They rebound and it’s a run-out and we’re not back on defense.”
Loomis noted that the Redmen’s mental toughness will be tested again immediately in the wake of a fire at the school on Monday that has caused the cancellation of classes for the rest of the week and made the schedule for upcoming games and practices uncertain — except for a 6 a.m. practice today at Fostoria Intermediate Elementary School.
“I told them, we’ve gone through some adversity and now we’re going to be vagabonds. We don’t have a gym. We don’t know if we’re playing at home or away. We don’t know. We’ve got to overcome adversity and that requires mental toughness. That’s preparation. We have to continue to prepare and they have to decide that basketball is still a priority for them.”
FOSTORIA (3-8, 1-5 NBC)
Anderson 3-0–7, Sierra 3-0–6, Cousin 6-0–13, Bemis 3-0–6, Tucker 2-1–5, Boff 0-0–0, Reed 0-0–0, Ward 5-2–12, Finsel 0-0–0, Sheets 1-0–3, Settles 0-0–0. TOTALS: 23-48 3-4 — 52.
WOODMORE (7-2, 3-2 NBC)
Rollins 1-0–2, Barbee 3-0–7, Paul 1-1–3, Blausey 2-1–6, Miller 7-3–18, Burner 8-4–20, Heidebrink 4-0–8, Barringer 0-0–0, Sandrock 1-0–2, Koenig 0-2–2, Mierzejewski 3-0–8. TOTALS: 31-42 9-11 — 76.
Fostoria 11 20 10 12 — 52
Woodmore 15 22 21 18 — 76
3-Point GOALS: Fostoria 3-13 (Anderson, Cousin & Sheets 1); Woodmore 5-12 (Mierzejewski 2, Barbee, Blausey & Miller 1).
turnovers: Fostoria 10; Woodmore 7.
junior varsity: Woodmore, 62-52.
FRESHMEN: Fostoria, 48-43.