BASKETBALL: Wapak, St. Marys renew rivalry
Statistically there isn’t a lot riding on Friday night’s showdown between the Wapakoneta Redskins and the St. Marys Roughriders.
Like that’s ever mattered before.
The cross-county foes renew their rivalry with little else on the line besides bragging rights and momentum heading into the home stretch of the season.
Neither team is a contender in the Western Buckeye League standings, where they share identical 1-4 league records.
Both teams are trying to salvage seasons that are on the verge of spiraling out of control.
And don’t neglect the revenge factor. Last season they split a pair of meetings with St. Marys knocking off the Redskins in a regular season game at Wapak and Wapak returning the favor in a sectional semifinal at Lima Senior.
This one promises to be intense.
“I don’t anticipate us coming out not ready to go on Friday night,” Wapak varsity coach Matt Bradley said.
The Roughriders present a challenge with a strong inside-out pairing in J.D. Meyer (6-foot-6, senior) and Garet Fledderjohann (5-9, junior).
“There are probably better 1-2 punches in the league, but as far as the inside-outside threat, it doesn’t get much better than Meyer and Fledderjohann,” Bradley said. “Meyer has really been impressive this season. I think maybe last year you saw him kind of hit a wall as the season went on. This year, he’s just plowed right through that wall. He’s really putting up impressive numbers. We know we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Meyer leads the Roughriders in scoring at 15.9 points per game and rebounding at 6.9 boards per contest. Fledderjohann, a three-year starter at point guard, is scoring 13.8 a night.
“We’re very familiar with him,” Bradley said. “But he has really diversified his game from being just a shooter as a freshman,” Bradley said. “He’s really good off the dribble now.”
Throw in a healthy D.J. Manning, who is averaging 10.0 points per game, and the Roughriders present three solid threats.
“They’re doing some really good things offensively,” Bradley said. “They’re shooting the ball extremely well right now. We’ve got to defend.”
Offensively, Wapak has struggled at times this season to find an identity. The Redskins have settled for perimeter jump shots and, when those have failed to fall, have struggled to put points on the board.
Travis Bertram leads Wapak in scoring at 16.3 points per game and is averaging 5.2 rebounds per night.
Jake Buzzard is averaging 10.9 points and a team-high 6.6 boards per contest.
Alex Greve leads in a assists at 3.4 per game and scores 8.1 points per game.
The Redskins are shooting 47 percent as a team from two-point range but just 30 percent from behind the arc.
“I don’t think wholesale changes are necessary,” Bradley said. “We’re getting good looks. Saturday night we did a much better job off attacking the rim. We got to the free throw line 24 times as compared to two on Friday night. .... That’s got to continue. We’ve got to get to the foul line.”
Bradley said the Redskins’ ability to attack inside will present more challenges for opposing defenses.
“When we’re aggressive, when we try to get the ball inside the paint, whether on the drive or on the pass, I think that just makes us so much more difficult to guard,” Bradley said.
“Scoring points in the paint is really key for us,” he said.
Bradley says he doesn’t expect any surprises from the Roughriders.
“They’re going to play us man. They’re going to mix in some zone,” he said. “We’re not going to surprise them with what we’re doing offensively. Hopefully they’re not going to surprise us with what they’re doing offensively.
“We’ve just got to continue doing what we do, just do it better.”