BLUFFTON â€” Travis Bertram carved up the Bluffton Pirates defense like a Christmas ham Tuesday night, scoring 26 points to lead the Wapakoneta Redskins to a 52-35 win in a varsity boys basketball contest at Bluffton High School.
The junior forward scored 21 of the Redskinsâ€™ first 38 points â€” including 11 of their 14 first-quarter points â€” as Wapak pulled away and was never seriously challenged by the 0-5 Pirates.
Bertram was coming off a 28-point performance in Saturdayâ€™s 59-57 loss to the St. Henry Redskins.
â€śHeâ€™s having a great year,â€ť Wapak varsity coach Matt Bradley said. â€śHeâ€™s very confident, which I think you have to be if you want to be a successful player. But right now I think he feels like every time he shoots itâ€™s going in, which is the mentality youâ€™ve got to have.
â€śAnd I hope people start to take notice of him because heâ€™s a fun player to watch. Heâ€™s put in a lot of time. This just didnâ€™t happen overnight. Itâ€™s the result of a lot of work. Iâ€™m really proud of himâ€ť
With the Redskins sitting on a 30-21 halftime lead, Bertram scored Wapakâ€™s first eight points of the third quarter to quickly stretch the gap to 38-25.
â€śWe wanted to try to control Bertram,â€ť Bluffton varsity coach Todd Boblitt said. â€śAnd we didnâ€™t. We wanted to try to make it tough for Buzzard to get open looks. And we didnâ€™t do that. And lastly, we wanted to try to control the glass. And we were not successful in any of those three ventures. ...
â€śGive them a lot of credit. Bertram made a lot of plays and Buzzard did make his shots when he got open. But we really got abused on the glass.â€ť
A pair of Michael Donley 3-pointers late in the third quarter cut the Wapak lead to 41-31 late in the third quarter.
But the Redskins answered with an 11-2 run, keyed by a Buzzard 3-pointer, into the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for Wapak and lifted the Redskins to 2-4 on the season.
â€śTo the outsider, you may look at our record as being the same as what itâ€™s been the last couple years,â€ť Bradley said. â€śBut I really, truly believe weâ€™re a different team. And I think our guys believe that.â€ť
Alex Greve scored six points, all from the free throw line. Jake Buzzard hit two 3-pointers for six points. Kaleb Vondenhuevel added five.
Wapak stretched out the floor defensively, throw a mix of defenses at the Pirates. Even in the 2-3 zone the Redskins defended out to half court and forced numerous Bluffton turnovers.
â€śWeâ€™ve said all along that if we hold a team to under 50 points weâ€™ve got a chance to win,â€ť Bradley said. â€śWe held them to 35, 14 in the second half. Iâ€™m really proud of our effort. I thought we rebounded the ball incredibly well, which we should have given our size.â€ť
Wapak is off until next Thursday when it travels to Lima Central Catholic to take on the Thunderbirds.
The Redskins next Western Buckeye League contest is Friday, Jan. 6 at home against the Bath Wildcats.
In the junior varsity contest, Wapak took over midway through the third quarter and turned a 19-19 tie into a 50-26 win.
Freshman Adam Henderson continued his strong play with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Henderson scored 12 of his points in the second-half run.
Brandon Erb added eight points, all in the second half, with two 3-pointers. Kodi Morgan chipped in with seven.
Kaleb Miller scored six points. Zach Schmerge (five points), John Huffman (three) and Tyler Hone (two) rounded out the Redskins scoring.
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