Wapakoneta Redskins senior Jake Bruns (3) guards St. Henry Redskins sophomore Mitchel Stammen in a non-league varsity boys basketball game Tuesday at St. Henry High School. (Staff photo/Jake Dowling).
ST. HENRY — The Wapakoneta Redskins had been playing their best ball of late, winning four of their last six contests as the postseason is just around the corner.
The Redskins were on a hot streak of sorts, until Tuesday night.
Wapak ran into another Midwest Athletic Conference team, in the St. Henry Redskins, who dominated the second half Tuesday in their 57-38 win in a non-league varsity boys basketball game.
Wapakoneta (5-14) has struggled all season against teams in the MAC, posting a 1-5 record in the Redskins’ head basketball coach Doug Selvey’s first season at the helm. Its only win against that conference was against Minster back in December.
“Credit (St. Henry) though; they had a good game plan coming in that definitely fits their needs and their strengths,” Selvey said.
Wapak had problems scoring throughout the night, shooting just 21 percent from the 3-point line after hitting from that same spot nine times the week before at Kenton.
St. Henry had virtually no problems, hitting eight 3-pointers with a 47 percent shooting clip from downtown.
Wapak’s shooting from the field was not much better, as the team hit just 35 percent of their shots.
St. Henry connected on a decent 47.6 percent from the floor.
“We had to come out and match up with them throughout the game and that gave us problems,” Selvey said. “They beat us off the dribble from top to bottom, but give credit to them for attacking the basket.”
Wapakoneta found itself down 14-7 after the first period but came roaring back in the second period with a small, but effective, 8-2 run to pull the game within five points at halftime.
“We knocked down a couple of shots, and it gave us an opportunity to believe; it was a nice little run there,” Selvey said. “We switched to a 2-3 zone on defense and made a few stops and that was a big difference for us despite them being able to alter our shots the way they did.”
Wapak did not allow a single bucket for almost six minutes of play during the period.
But St. Henry came out firing in the second half, however, as Wapakoneta was quickly down by as much as 15 points halfway through the third period.
St. Henry outscored Wapakoneta 18-6 in the third period to take a commanding lead and, in essence, the game.
Wapak’s main problem was containing St. Henry big man Ryan Mikesell, whose double-double propelled his team as he scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 14 boards including five blocks, four in the first half alone.
“It’s all about toughness,” said Selvey. “We tried to get in there, make some shots and just show that we weren’t afraid of (Mikesell’s) size. We were able to continue to go after him all night and I was happy about that.”
Mikesell’s four blocks in the first half prevented eight points and made the difference in the game because it kept Wapakoneta from taking a lead before halftime and set the tone for St. Henry after the break.
Keaton Metz led Wapak with 11 points, two rebounds and two assists, while Adam Henderson added nine points and four boards.
Now, with one regular season game remaining against Shawnee (6-14, 2-6 Western Buckeye League) before matching up against Celina in the Division II sectional semifinal on Feb. 25 at Lima Senior High School, Selvey’s squad must prepare in order to turn things around come tournament time.
“I told our kids that they have four guaranteed practices left as seniors, and we all have to be on board,” the coach said. “With us being on board it gives us an opportunity to beat Celina and play Bath and then whoever wins from there.”
Celina (13-7, 7-1) has lost just one game in conference play and beat the Redskins 68-59 on Jan. 17.
Despite his team’s struggles throughout the year, Selvey understands that once the tournament begins, anything can happen.
“We just need to stay focused and stay on the right path because come tournament time, anyone can beat anyone,” he said.
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