WAYNESFIELD — Pretty? No.
The Wapakoneta Redskins bounced back from a six-point fourth-quarter deficit and pulled away to a 57-52 win over the Waynesfield-Goshen Tigers in the varsity girls basketball season opener for both teams.
Redskins senior Courtney Knippen scored 15 of her team-high 19 points in the second half, including the go-ahead free throws with 3:24 to play.
“We got the ball inside down the stretch a couple times and forced them to foul us,” Wapak varsity coach Rusty Allen said. “We just kept doing the things we needed to do to get a ‘W’ tonight.”
W-G looked to be in control of the game and was starting to pull away early in the fourth quarter thanks to Redskins foul trouble. Wapak sophomore Sara Warner and senior Tasha Helmstetter both had four fouls apiece early in the fourth.
With the two Redskins on the bench, W-G freshman guard Sydney Buffenbarger drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to lift the Tigers to a 50-44 lead with 4:55 remaining.
Allen called a timeout and inserted the pair back into the lineup. That move, coupled with a pair of W-G turnovers, gave Wapak the lift it needed.
Helmstetter dropped in a three from the left side of the circle and, after a Tigers’ turnover, Warner buried a jumper from just inside the free throw line.
The Redskins’ pressure defense forced another turnover. Knippen was fouled on the play and sank both free throws to give Wapak its first lead in more than eight minutes.
“That was attributed to them coming off the bench, being prepared to play, even though they sat most of that third quarter,” Allen said. “Foul trouble was huge for us.”
Wapak threw everything it had at W-G junior Kaylee Patton, who still managed to finish with 28 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor and 8-of-13 from the free throw line.
“She’s just a player,” Allen said.
“We were looking to penetrate and get some fouls,” W-G varsity coach Ted Patton said. “That’s part of our game. ... We got in the one-and-one early. We got what we wanted. We just didn’t make our free throws.”
Stretch free throw shooting was a key factor in the outcome. Wapak was 9-for-12 (75 percent) in the fourth quarter. W-G was 6-for-13 (46 percent) in the fourth.
“From about five minutes on, we just did not hit free throws,” Ted Patton said. “A team like Wapak, you’ve got to hit your free throws or you’re not going to win that game.”
W-G junior center Kindsey Salyer-Watts narrowly missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
For the Redskins, Warner added 12 points and junior Nicole Brown chipped in with 10.
Wapak was playing without senior Morgan Quellhorst, who sat out the contest after missing two scrimmages last week.
The Redskins are also without senior Ashley Knippen for the season after she injured her knee in a powder-puff football game.
W-G played without senior Ivy Horn, who suffered an ankle injury in a scrimmage Monday against Fort Jennings. The Tigers are awaiting further word as to the full nature of her injury and how much time she will miss.
The Redskins won the junior varsity contest 50-20. Freshman Megan Watt led Wapak with 13 points. Freshman Lea Stoner added 11 points.
Freshman Jessica Lowe led W-G with 6 points.