Wauseon Girls’ Basketball Heads to Regional Tournament
When the top-seeded Elmwood Lady Royals took a 52-46 early in the fourth quarter, the second-seeded Wauseon Lady Indians were reeling, having been outscored 12-3 over the last few minutes and their two top offensive players, Marisa Seiler and Hayley Meyer, having just been put back in the game after picking up their fourth foul.
What followed was the response of a true champion. Wauseon went on a 16-0 run, outscoring Elmwood 26-8 in the deciding frame and defeated the Lady Royals 72-58 to win the DIII District Title at Anthony Wayne High School. The victory sends the Lady Indians to the Regional Tournament for the first time since the 2010-2011 season.
The fourth quarter turn around may have been made much more difficult if not for the senior leadership and performance of Wauseon point guard Autumn Pelok. When Seiler and Meyer were sent to the bench midway through the third, Pelok stepped up and took control, scoring, playing great defense and bringing calm to the unsettled Indians. The task was made even more daunting when Elmwood’s All-Ohio standout Brooklyn Thrash eclipsed the 2000-point mark for her career with a basket late in the quarter, firing up her fans and giving the Royals a 47-43 lead and all the momentum.
“I just had us huddle up and said, ‘Relax. You got this. This what we’ve worked for. We can do it. You got to believe in yourself. I believe in you,’” said Pelok encouraging and rallying her teammates. Pelok scored nine of her 20 points in that pivotal period and kept the score close until the other starters were able to return.
Wauseon coach Dan Seiler gave a lot of credit to the players who filled in for the starters in foul trouble. “I just can’t say enough about their efforts when they came in to bail us out for that little bit,” he remarked. “When you’re giving up that much height it’s hard to do.” Coach Seiler also commented on the play of Pelok in those moments. “Autumn plays her best when she has to,” he said. “When she picked up her defense in that second half, I thought everything was easy for her. Her offense was so much easy for her and her defense was phenomenal. She was all over the floor.”
Once back in the game. Meyer and Seiler began to dominate the inside on offense, scoring almost at will with layups and short bank shots, all while somehow avoiding their game-ejecting fifth foul. “We just needed to be smart on the defensive end and not too aggressive on the offensive end,” explained Meyer who had 11 of her team-high 25 points in fourth quarter.
Soon after the Indians regained the lead, the play of the Royals began to disintegrate on both ends of the court. Elmwood committed 13 turnovers in the final eight minutes, some of them self-inflicted, and 27 for the game. Their inside defense had all but disappeared, allowing most of the 26 points scored against them.
Wauseon, on the other hand, turned the ball over just 12 times in the contest. They also outscored Elmwood from the foul line, making 25 of 35 free throws to 10 of 11 for the Royals.
“I’m excited. I’m so happy for this community. So happy for these kids and their parents,” said Coach Seiler after the Regional-qualifying win. “These parents put in so much time with these young ladies. That’s what it takes.”
Statistically, the trio of Meyer (25 pts), Pelok (20 pts) and Seiler (20 pts) combined to for 65 of Wauseon’s 72 points. Seiler also had a team-high seven rebounds, Meyer had five boards and two steals and Pelok pulled down four rebounds and had four steals. Ellie Rodriguez and Kadence each scored three points and Johanna Tester had one. Thrash had 27 points for Elmwood to lead all scorers.
Wauseon will now travel to Findlay to take on the Lady Titans of Ottawa-Glandorf at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 3/2/22 in the DIII Regional Tournament Semi-Finals.
Pictured: Wauseon Head Coach Dan Seiler
Click on the link above to access photos from the game. Photos are in the jpeg format to allow for editing and can be downloaded for no charge courtesy of the fultoncountymedia.com website.