Caylee Phillips of Van Wert shoots a layup against Elida on Thursday night. (DHI Media/Chris Howell)
Caylee Phillips of Van Wert shoots a layup against Elida on Thursday night. (DHI Media/Chris Howell)

ELIDA —From the opening tip, to the final buzzer, the Lady Cougars outwardly showed the determination on the court that it takes to get a win in the WBL, and on Thursday night that seemed to be all they needed to come away with their fourth of the season in a 54-50 victory over the Elida Bulldogs.

Say what you want about the Lady Cougars overall record of 6-14. At the end of the day, when you can take care of business in league play, that's what's most important. And when it comes to facing teams in the WBL, Van Wert has forged their way into a three-way tie for fourth place in the league after taking down the Bulldogs.

With the help of a 20 point third quarter explosion, and consistent play across the board all night, the Lady Cougars will head into the final week of the regular season tied in the fourth spot with Wapak and St. Marys behind first place O.G., second place Bath, and third place Defiance.

Jamison Clouse led the way with 10 points, as the vocal point of an entire team effort in which Van Wert had six players score five or more. Clouse got the action started in the first with the opening basket.

Scoring seemed to be hard to come by for both teams in the first eight minutes as the two teams combined for just 14 points.

The Cougars senior forward was responsible for four in the quarter, while lead-guard Kyra Welch would score all four of her points in the first to give Van Wert the 8-6 lead after one.

Both teams turned up the heat on offense from this point on.

Addison Freeman opened the second for Elida by converting on a three-point-play for an early lead change.

The Cougars answered by scoring seven out of the next 10 points on twos by Allison Schaufelberger and Carlee Young, capped off with a triple by Jaylyn Rickard. Rickard found the bottom of the net from distance twice in the second on her way to finishing the night with six points.

Sofi Houg's first point of the game, along with Rickard's second triple brought the score to 20-14 in the closing minutes of the half.

A three from Freeman, and a two from Clouse would send these teams to the break with Van Wert up 22-17.

The Lady Cougars reentered the Elida Fieldhouse for the second half on mission, and that was to score, score again, and then score some more. They did everything it took to accomplish that in the third.

Van Wert's 10-3 run to open the quarter would give them a 10 point lead at 32-22. Houg and Carly Smith connected from deep on back-to-back possessions to send the visitors bench into a frenzy.

Elida's Bella Lopez halted the run, but the Lady Cougars weren't anywhere near finished making runs.

After trading twos, Van Wert maintained their 10 point lead until three straight buckets coming from Houg, Young, and Jerica Huebner put the Cougars in front by 16 at 40-24.

The Bulldogs were down at this point, but there was a long way to go in this one.

Elida ripped off a 7-2 run to close the quarter thanks to a three from Freeman and twos by Brooke Reese and Ameera Freeman.

The offensive spurt inched the home team back within 11 at the end of three.

The final eight minutes was a roller coaster ride for everyone in attendance. If you were on the Van Wert side, the game would soon be too close for comfort. However, if you were on the Elida side, it was time to get excited.

The fourth was the only quarter in which Elida outscored Van Wert.

Addison Freeman had the first three points of the frame to pull her team back within eight at 42-34. She finished as the top scorer overall in the game with 20 points.

Baskets were traded for much of the opening minutes, and the deficit stayed within striking range.

After a layup by Young, the Bulldogs put together six straight to make the score 46-43.

A pair of free throws from Houg brought the difference back up to five, but on the next trip down the court Freeman would sink a three to make the game 48-46.

Unfortunately for the home team, and fortunately for the visitors, things never got any closer.

Clouse put the Cougars back up four, and three free throws down the stretch by Huebner and Caylee Phillips sealed the game at 54-50 to top the 10-win Bulldogs.

Van Wert is now 6-14 overall, and 4-4 in the WBL. They'll wrap up the regular season with LCC on Saturday, and Lima Bath on Thursday.

BOX SCORE 1 2 3 4 T

VAN WERT 8 14 20 12 54

ELIDA 6 11 14 19 50

VAN WERT (54)

Carlee Young 8, Kyra Welch 4, Carly Smith 7, Jamison Clouse 10, Jaylyn Rickard 6, Caylee Phillips 3, Jerica Huebner 5, Sofi Houg 9, Allison Schaufelberger 2.

ELIDA (50)

Rachel Mitchell 2, Ameera Freeman 11, Addison Freeman 20, Brooke Reese 2, Bella Lopez 7, Ephifany Johnson 2, Katelyn Makin 6.