ELIDA — Melrose tried to slow down Elida in Tuesday’s District 3-1A boys game, but the Tigers were more than equal to the task.
Elida (22-4), seeded second in the tournament, held the Buffaloes to two first-half points and cruised to a 55-23 victory to advance to a 6 p.m. semifinal game at home on Thursday against Fort Sumner, a 43-35 winner over Floyd.
Thursday’s winner earns a berth in the Class 1A state tournament round of 16 next week, and will play at top-seeded Dora (20-5) in Saturday’s 7 p.m. district tournament finals.
Elida coach Darrell Chenault said his team is hoping to play as well defensively against Fort Sumner as it did in Tuesday’s game.
“We had a tremendous defensive effort, and we have to keep that going,” Chenault said. “The last game Fort Sumner scored 67 points on us.”
Chenault noted that the most points the Tigers have allowed this season have come in losses to Gateway Christian (75-62), Dora (70-59) and Fort Sumner (67-66).
The youthful Buffaloes (3-23) were forced into numerous turnovers, and the Tigers extended a 6-0 lead at the quarter to 18-2 at halftime. Melrose scored just nine points in the first three stanzas.
Junior Ever Varela and Wesley Gilmore scored 11 points each for Elida, which had six 3-pointers in the game and got points from eight players. Junior Aaron Hemminger led the Buffs with six points.
At Fort Sumner, Floyd hit seven of its first eight shots — including three-pointers — and opened a 17-8 lead at the quarter. The margin reached 27-12 with just over a minute to go in the half, but the Broncos (11-15) scored only eight points the rest of the way — including a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game.
The Foxes (11-13) scored the final 10 points of the third quarter to close to 29-28 as its pressure forced several Floyd turnovers.
Floyd spread the court at the start of the final quarter, but the Foxes tied it 30-30 on two Berry Stinnett free throws and went in front for the first time on a rebound basket by Rawley Stallard with 4:35 to go.
Stallard led a balanced Fort Sumner attack with 10 points. Freshman guard Jesus Davalos finished with seven points for the Broncos.