Defiance Rallies to Edge Van Wert 46-43

Posted On: Saturday, December 18, 2021

Van Wert’s Garett Gunter finds himself guarded by Defiance’s Brayden Shaw during Friday night’s home opener.

Van Wert’s Garett Gunter finds himself guarded by Defiance’s Brayden Shaw during Friday night’s home opener. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent


Van Wert’s home opener went right down to the wire but the Cougars came up just short, falling to Defiance 46-43 on Friday night.

A free throw by Bradyn Shaw gave the Bulldogs a 45-43 lead with nine seconds left and after a time out, Van Wert’s Ethan Brown launched a three-point attempt from the top of the key but the ball glanced off the rim. Defiance’s Cayden Zachrich rebounded the errant shot and was fouled, then hit a free throw with 4.4 seconds left but missed the second, setting up a shot just beyond halfcourt by Aidan Pratt, which hit the rim as the buzzer sounded.

“We had a great look but it didn’t go in, but it was a great WBL game,” Van Wert head coach Ben Laudick said. “We’re pleased with our effort but we’re disappointed with the outcome. That’s what you get on Friday nights in the WBL, it’s going to be a war.”

Van Wert (4-2, 1-1 WBL) led 12-9 after the first quarter and after back-to-back baskets by Brown led 16-11 early in the second period before the Bulldogs fought back and went up 22-19 on a bucket by Isaac Schlatter. Carson Smith tied the game 22-22, then each time finished the half with a trey – one by Zachrich and one by Garett Gunter that tied the game 25-25 at the break.

Pratt pleased the crowd with a two-handed slam dunk early in third quarter and the Cougars forged a 35-30 lead with two minutes left in the period, but it was the final time Van Wert would score for six minutes. In the meantime, back-to-back treys by Shaw and Zachrich helped put Defiance in front 38-35 and the Bulldogs were later able to extend the lead to 44-39.

“Credit to them, they made the plays and hit the shots,” Laudick said. “Our guys are resilient, we’ll be okay.”

An area that came back to haunt the Cougars was rebounding, as Defiance (5-2, 2-0 WBL) finished with a 31-17 advantage on the boards.

“We knew we had to rebound and we knew they’re a really good rebounding team on both ends of the floor,” Laudick. ‘It wasn’t due to effort by our guys, it’s just that Defiance came up with some timely rebounds. I thought early in the second half we came up with all the 50-50 stuff and I felt if we could continue to do that we’d be alright, but down the stretch they got a couple of extra possessions and kicked it out to Zachrich and Shaw.”

Van Wert finished 17-of-42 shooting and 5-9 from the floor with just five turnovers. Gunter had 12 points while Pratt finished with 19. Defiance was 16-of-35 and 8-of-10 from the free throw line with 10 turnovers. Zachrich led all scorers with 17 and Shaw added 16 points.

Van Wert will host Wayne Trace today, with the junior varsity game starting at 4.

“They’re a really good team and I had a chance to watch them live earlier this season,” Laudick said of the Raiders. “They have a really solid core of guys and all of them can shoot, all of them are really skilled. It’s another great challenge for us.”


Scoring summary

Van Wert 12 13 10 8 – 43
Defiance 9 16 5 16 – 46

Van Wert: Ethan Brown 3-0-6; Carson Smith 1-2-5; Garett Gunter 4-2-12; Trey Laudick 1-0-2; Aidan Pratt 4-1-10; Maddix Crutchfield 2-0-6; Nate Phillips 1-0-2

Defiance: Bradyn Shaw 6-2-16; Aidan Kiessling 1-2-5; Isaac Schlatter 2-0-4; Nick Mitchell 1-2-4; Cayden Zachrich 6-2-17

JV: Defiance 49-34


Original article courtesy of The VW Independent 

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