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ST. MARYS â€” For 16 seconds, the score was tied.
From there on out, it was all Wapak.
The Wapakoneta Redskins rolled to a convincing 60-40 win over the rival St. Marys Roughriders in a Western Buckeye League varsity boys basketball game Friday night at St. Marys High School.
Jake Buzzardâ€™s 3-pointer from the right corner gave the Redskins a 3-0 lead. It was the closest St. Marys would get the rest of the way.
â€śAny time you can beat your rival on their home floor, in a conference game, good crowd, it feels really good,â€ť Wapak varsity coach Matt Bradley said.
Buzzard scored the first eight points of the game, including threes from both corners as Wapak pulled away to a 15-7 lead after one and never looked back. He finished with team-highs in scoring (19) and rebounds (seven).
The Roughriders were playing without leading scorer J.D. Meyer. The 6-foot-6 senior suffered a high-ankle sprain in practice Thursday.
â€śThatâ€™s a tough deal for them,â€ť Bradley said. â€śHeâ€™s a phenomenal player, a great athlete. Any time a guy like that goes down itâ€™s really going to affect how they play. I feel really bad that he wasnâ€™t able to go tonight because we want to play them at their best.â€ť
Without Meyer, the scoring burden â€” as well as the Redskinsâ€™ defensive focus â€” shifted to junior guard Garet Fledderjohann.
Wapak smothered Fledderjohann, switching off on screens with 6-6 Kaleb Vondenhuevel and 6-8 Alec Temple jumping out on the 5-9 guard.
Fledderjohann finished with a game-high 20 points but had a hand in his face each step of the way.
â€śHe had to work for everything he got,â€ť St. Marys varsity coach Dan Hegemier said. â€śI know he didnâ€™t want to throw some stuff up But he had to throw it up.â€ť
The Redskinsâ€™ significant size advantage forced the Roughriders to settle for outside shots, shot they struggled to hit.
St. Marys was just 11-of-45 (24 percent) from the floor. The Riders attempted 25 three-pointers, converting just seven of them (28 percent).
Junior Austin James connected on four threes to finish with 12 points. James and Fledderjohann were the only St. Marys players in double figures.
Wapakâ€™s size advantage also led to a 28-20 rebounding edge for the Redskins.
â€śItâ€™s tough when he (Meyer) ainâ€™t playinâ€™,â€ť Hegemier said. â€śHe just turned it last night in practice, stupid thing. And we didnâ€™t respond well.â€ť
By contrast, Wapak was 22-of-43 (51 percent) from the floor and 6-of-13 (46 percent) from three-point range.
After a quiet first half, junior Travis Bertram came alive in the fourth quarter to finish with 13 points and six boards for the Redskins.
Junior Alex Greve added 10 points for Wapak and senior Andy Faller chipped in eight. Greve and Faller had a pair of threes each. Senior Kaleb Vondenhuevel contributed six points.
â€śWe really talked this week about playing with confidence and having fun, playing loose,â€ť Bradley said. â€śBecause if you think about it, we really have nothing to lose. Weâ€™re out of the league race, obviously. Our goal now is to get better for the second season, which is the tournament. ... I was proud of our effort tonight.â€ť
Wapak is now 5-10 overall and 2-4 in the WBL. St. Marys is 5-10 and 1-5.
In the junior varsity contest, Wapak used a big third quarter to blow open a close game.
The Redskins led by four, 20-16, at the half. But they held St. Marys to just a single free throw in the third quarter to take a 31-17 lead heading into the fourth.
Wapak outscored the Riders 23-6 in the second half.
Jake Bruns led the Redskins with 10 points. Kodi Morgan added eight.