Wayne Trace junior Eli Sinn (10) takes a jumper during the Raiders’ 46-32 win against Bluffton in the Division III district semifinals on Thursday night at Lima Senior High School. The Raiders will play Marion Local on Saturday. (DHI Media/John Parent)
Wayne Trace junior Eli Sinn (10) takes a jumper during the Raiders’ 46-32 win against Bluffton in the Division III district semifinals on Thursday night at Lima Senior High School. The Raiders will play Marion Local on Saturday. (DHI Media/John Parent)
LIMA — Wayne Trace got a dozen points from Brady Stabler and Josh Kuhn and the Raiders took advantage of 23 Bluffton turnovers to post a 46-32 win over the Pirates in Division III district semifinal action Thursday night at Lima Senior High School.

The Raiders survived and advanced despite a Bluffton defense that limited Raider senior Ethan Linder to 10 points, nearly 19 points below his 28.9 point average.

Wayne Trace opened the margin up with a 13-0 run in the second quarter, buoyed by a 3-point field goal and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Stabler that helped the Raiders take control with a 24-9 halftime advantage.

“We got some big efforts tonight,” said Raider head coach Jim Linder. “Brady hit a couple of big shots there in the first half where we were able to put some points together and open it up a little bit. I thought we got some turnovers there, too, and it sped up the game a little bit.”

After holding a slim 11-8 advantage after one quarter, Wayne Trace took advantage of seven Bluffton turnovers in the second quarter to take control of the game.

“Our defense got us going a little bit there in the second quarter,” said the Raider head coach. “We took advantage of some turnovers and that is who we are. We want to push the tempo and force teams into mistakes and we were able to do that.”

Bluffton pulled within 24-13 and 26-15 early in the third quarter before Wayne Trace again answered. A 3-pointer by Stabler and two Ethan Linder free throws pushed the lead to 31-15 but the Pirates again tried to answer. Gabe Denecker hit a 3-point shot to get Bluffton back within 31-19 at the 5:20 mark but the Pirates would never get any closer.

Two Jon Sinn baskets closed out the third quarter scoring as the Raiders extended the lead to 36-19 entering the final period.

“They made a couple of runs there but we were able to come up with big baskets there each time,” Linder said. “Different guys made big plays at different times and that is what we are going to need to keep playing.”

Denecker and Kaleb Jefferson opened the fourth quarter scoring with consecutive baskets for Bluffton, getting the Pirates within 36-23. However, Josh Kuhn responded with six straight Raider points to widen the lead to 42-23 and Wayne Trace never looked back in punching its ticket to the district championship.

“Josh played really well tonight,” said the Raider head coach. “He came in and gave us very good minutes and went to the basket for us as well. I thought he did a great job tonight.”

Eli Sinn chipped in five points while dishing off eight assists for the Raiders, who moved to 22-2 on the season.

“Eli saw the floor very well,” noted Jim Linder. “He got the ball to the right people for easy baskets and good looks all night long. I thought he was very good tonight too.”

Jon Sinn added four points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds for Wayne Trace.

Kaleb Jefferson paced Bluffton with 14 points while Denecker added nine for the Pirates, who finished the year with a record of 13-12. Bluffton played without the services of starting freshman point guard Luke Denecker, a first-team all-Northwest Conference selection this season.

Wayne Trace will play Marion Local in the Division IV district championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The Flyers held on for a 44-42 win over Spencerville in the first semifinal on Thursday.