HAMILTON — As the final horn sounded, Badin High School boys basketball coach Gerry Weisgerber gave a fist pump followed by a big sigh of relief.
Weisgerber watched his Rams build a 19-point second-half lead Tuesday night, only to sweat out some anxious moments before claiming a home-opening 57-53 win over Elder at Mulcahey Gym.
“That’s a great win for us,” Weisgerber said. “I wasn’t feeling so good the last four and a half minutes, but that is a big win for us.”
TUESDAY NIGHT BASKETBALL COVERAGE
Zach Switzer led a balanced Badin attack with 14 points and five rebounds. Justin Pappas followed up his opening-game 29-point performance with 11, while Nathan Hegemann added 10 as the Rams improved to 2-0.
Badin forced 19 turnovers, 12 in the first half, and held the Panthers to 17-of-40 shooting.
“That’s as good as I have seen us play defense, and it just leads to our offense,” Weisgerber said. “We forced turnovers and got it out and ran on them.”
Badin blitzed Elder in the second quarter, erasing a 10-8 deficit with a dominating attack to grab a 30-16 lead at the break. After turning the ball over seven times in the first quarter, the Rams only turned the ball over twice in the second period.
“We didn’t turn the ball over,” Weisgerber said of the key second quarter. “We scored 22 points and only had two turnovers, and that was the difference.”
The Panthers were coming off a road victory over Fairfield, but coach Joe Schoenfeld admitted their Tuesday performance was much different, and the Rams had a lot to do with it.
“We were very sloppy with the ball, but give Badin credit,” Schoenfeld said. “They did some good stuff on offense, and they always play solid defense. We came in talking about taking care of the ball and we had 12 turnovers in the first half, and the problem with many of those turnovers was it led to easy offense.
“They played well, shot well, made free throws. They guarded us well. They forced our mistakes.”
Badin came out of the break hot, building a 39-20 lead on Spencer Giesting’s three-point play, but the Panthers ran off the last nine points of the third quarter to keep it close.
Pappas had a layup and Switzer had two quick transition buckets as Badin built a 45-29 lead. Both coaches said the start of the fourth quarter was critical, especially when Elder made a late run.
“That was big for us, ” Weisgerber said. “We had to get the momentum back. They made a little run and we needed an answer, and we got it quickly. Then we started playing to hold on. Their pressure wasn’t so much getting to us as much as we weren’t attacking.”
“We were not very sound defensively until the last five minutes of the third quarter, and then we come out in the fourth quarter and it was like ‘What the hell are we thinking?’ ” Schoenfeld said. “We gave it all back to them in like 30 seconds. We came back again, but against a well-coached team, you are not going to get a third chance to get back in the game.”
Badin stumbled a bit down the stretch, watching a 49-32 lead evaporate into a slim 53-47 margin, but Hegemann hit two big freebies and Seth Hargis added a pair to set up a Ram celebration.
Hargis had eight points and four rebounds for Badin, which converted 21-of-40 field goals. Joseph Walsh chipped in seven points and four assists.
Elder (1-1) was led by Aidan Byrne’s 12 points, while Bryson Merz had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Joe Royer had nine points and nine boards.
Both teams return to action Friday, with Badin traveling to Alter and the Panthers hosting Cooper (Ky.).
ELDER (1-1): Aidan Byrne 3 4 12; Willard Cluxton 2 0 5; Matthew Luebbe 3 0 8; Joe Royer 3 3 9; Jake Byrne 0 6 6; Bryson Merz 5 0 11; Anthony Holmes 1 0 2. Totals: 17 13 53
BADIN (2-0): Joseph Walsh 3 0 7; Seth Hargis 3 2 8; Nathan Hegemann 2 5 10; Zach Switzer 6 2 14; Spencer Geisting 1 1 3; Justin Pappas 5 1 11; John Berg 1 2 4. Totals: 21 13 57
3-pointers: E 6 (Byrne 2, Luebbe 2, Cluxton, Merz), B 2 (Walsh, Hegemann)