PNT Staff Writer
The Elida Tigers were tested on their home court Thursday night, but they did enough to clinch a spot in the 1A state basketball tournament.
Elida senior Caleb Widener led the Tigers to a 49-47 District 3-1A semifinal victory over Fort Sumner. Widener finished the game with 13 points as the Elida boys move on to visit top-seed Dora in the district championship game Saturday night.
“We played very tight, we weren’t relaxed,” Elida head coach Darrell Chenault said. “We had many turnovers and we were in a situation where if we lost, we weren’t going to go on and it kind of got on our minds and we didn’t play very well.”
Fort Sumner shocked Elida by taking a quick early lead, but Elida tied the score after the first period 13-13. The Tigers managed a one-point lead at the half, before extending their lead to three points after the third period. But Chenault said his boys had an opportunity to blow the game open.
“We had a 10-point lead in the third quarter and four turnovers in a row put them right back in the game,” Chenault said.
“I have to compliment our senior I thought he had some huge rebounds there at the end of the ball game, he was five-of-seven from the free-throw line and I thought he played a pretty good ball game tonight.”
Elida juniors Ever Varela and Wesley Gilmore added 8 points each, while Fort Sumner was led by sophomore Berry Stinnett with 15 points and freshman Rawley Stallard with 14 points.