PIQUA â€” Wapakoneta Redskins varsity boys basketball coach Matt Bradley promised more defense in 2011-2012.
Friday night at Piqua, the Redskins delivered.
Wapakoneta held the Indians without a field goal for the first 7:28 of the game and rolled to a 63-45 win over Piqua in a season-opening game that wasnâ€™t as close as the final score indicated.
The Redskins jumped out to a 16-3 lead before Piqua converted its first field goal with 32 seconds left in the quarter.
The Redskins stretched the lead to 32-16 at the half and took their biggest lead of the game â€” 59-26 â€” in the fourth quarter before Bradley cleared the bench.
Piqua scored more than a third of their points (17) in the final 4:35 of the game.
â€śWeâ€™ve stressed that all along,â€ť Bradley said. â€śAnd once again, we held a team to under 50 and we won a game. I think if we continue to commit to defense and rebounding, I donâ€™t really have any doubts that weâ€™re capable of scoring points.â€ť
How commanding was Wapakâ€™s defense?
The Redskins forced 22 Piqua turnovers, held the Indians to just 14-of-37 (38 percent) shooting, and won the rebounding battle 29-17.
Despite missing 23 shots, Piqua could only muster five offensive rebounds.
â€śI thought we did a tremendous job limiting them to one shot and getting the rebound,â€ť Bradley said.
First-year coach Heath Butler takes over a Piqua team that had won just two games in its last 56 tries.
â€śWe pride ourselves on playing defense and not turning the ball over,â€ť Butler said. â€śWe turned it over too much. Sometimes we were a little out of control. But the out-of-controllness I wasnâ€™t really concerned about because we were playing hard.
â€śWe just maybe played a little too hard and tried to do too much at times.â€ť
Junior forward Travis Bertram led the Redskins with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He was 3-for-5 from three-point range.
Jake Buzzard, also a junior forward, dropped in 20 points on 8-of-14. He also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
â€śThey were hitting some contested shots,â€ť Butler said. â€śIt wasnâ€™t like they were wide-open.â€ť
Junior guard Alex Greve added eight points and senior center Kaleb Vondenhuevel chipped in with six in a strong game inside.
Bertram pulled down six rebounds and Vondehuevel had five.
Assist statistics were not immediately available.
â€śOne of the things we talked about in the pre-game was we wanted every shot come off an assist,â€ť Bradley said. â€śAnd I thought we had some really, really unselfish play from all of our guys.â€ť
Senior guard Taylor Wellbaum led Piqua with 15 points. Senior Jordan Feeser scored nine and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Wapak will get its first real test tonight when it heads to Fort Recovery to take on the Indians.
Fort Recovery is coming off a 54-29 shellacking of the St. Marys Roughriders in its opener Friday night.
The Redskins junior varsity team also won Friday night, knocking off Piqua 52-48.
Down 18-16 at the half, Wapak outscored the Indians 17-7 in the third quarter to take a 33-25 lead going into the fourth.
Junior Brandon Erb hit a big 3-pointer at the 2:07 mark of the quarter to swing the momentum Wapakâ€™s way.
The Redskins led by as many as 12, 45-33, in the fourth before Piqua began to chip away at the lead down the stretch.
Adam Henderson led the way with 15 points. Jake Bruns had a big fourth quarter, scoring nine points to finish with 11 for the game. Erb added 10 points.
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