Sports Writer

ELIDA - Kalida scored the first nine points of the game and never looked back as the Wildcats shut down Wayne Trace for a 54-39 victory in Division IV boys district semifinal action at the Elida Fieldhouse Tuesday evening.

The Wildcats made it tough for the Raiders to score all night long, limiting Wayne Trace to 14 of 48 shooting (29 percent) on the evening. Kalida also controlled the boards 36-26 as the Wildcats jumped in front early and controlled the contest the rest of the way.

“We got off to a good start and that was big,” noted Kalida head coach Ryan Stechschulte. “We knew that we had to contest shots on their shooters and I thought we did a pretty good job of that all night long. Another item we talked about was rebounding the basketball and I thought we went to the boards aggressively.”

Kalida took a 12-6 lead at the end of one quarter before widening it in the second stanza.

An Owen Recker 3-pointer was followed by a pair of Luke Erhart foul shots as the Wildcats quickly expanded the margin to 15-6.

After Wayne Trace got back within 17-11 on a Nathan Gerber basket, the Wildcats closed the half with seven straight points. Erhart hit a basket at the halftime buzzer to give Kalida a 24-11 advantage at the midway point.

“They played very well tonight,” noted Raider head coach Jim Linder of the Wildcats. “Kalida made it very difficult for us to score and they had a hand in our face on nearly every shot. They were very physical and they did a good job of getting loose balls and rebounding.”

Kalida led by as many as 15 in the third quarter before settling on a 38-27 lead going to the final period.

Wayne Trace trimmed the deficit to 38-31 early in the final period, getting pair of Jace Vining baskets.

The Wildcats responded with seven straight points as Recker hit a 3-pointer while Erhart and Evan Roebke added two free throws each to put Kalida on top 45-31 with 4:21 remaining.

Reid Miller added a 3-pointer for the Raiders to close the gap to 45-34 but that would be as close as Wayne Trace would get.

“I thought we did a nice job of making it difficult for (Nate) Gerber to get shots tonight,” Stechschulte continued. “That was one of the things we focused on and the guys did a nice job of defending.”

Vining led the Raiders with 18 points in the contest while also grabbing five rebounds. Miller chipped in eight markers for Wayne Trace and added six boards, two assists and two steals. Gerber also had four points and five rebounds for the Raiders, who close the season at 19-6.

“I am proud of the seniors and the job they did this year,” Linder concluded. “They have worked very hard and done a nice job for us all season.”

Seniors wearing the Wayne Trace boys basketball uniform for the final time included Evan Mohr, Josiah Linder, Trae Sinn, Mox Price and Caleb Yenser.

Owen Recker had 17 points to top Kalida, which moved to 19-5 and will play Crestview (23-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. Grant Laudick chipped in 10 markers with Roebke posting seven.

Erhart topped the Wildcats on the boards with 11 while Recker grabbed eight and Laudick picked up six.