A trifecta of treys in a 73-second stretch in the fourth quarter gave the Wapakoneta Redskins the lead and staked them to 7-point advantage they never relinquished in a battle Thursday against the Kenton Wildcats in their Western Buckeye League opener.
Redskin junior guard Nicole Brown hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to give Wapakoneta a 50-49 lead at the 5:09 mark in the fourth quarter in a see-saw affair and then put the dagger in Kenton’s comeback hopes with a second trey at the 4:36 mark and a third with 3:56 left in the quarter putting the Redskins up 56-49.
“Finding the open player with that one extra pass or that pass-in and kick-out, I felt we did a much better job of that tonight and if we make that extra pass it usually will get to the shooter in that position,” Redskin varsity coach Rusty Allen said after watching his team improve to 2-1 on the season with the 64-55 win.
“She did a nice job of getting her feet set, which is another thing we have been preaching is get set and fire it up, and she did that and then it is a matter of getting some confidence in your shot.”
Brown ended the night hitting 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, with long-range shots accounting for all 12 of the points she had on the night.
As a team, the Redskins shot 6-of-9, or 66 percent, in the fourth quarter and a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the 3-point line as they grabbed the lead and kept the Wildcats at bay.
“I think we’ve always wanted to do that and obviously Sarah and Nic carried us from out there tonight but we have confidence in Tasha and Mallory to hit those shots,” Allen said. “I think this will help open the inside for Courtney, who is a little undersized sometimes, and I think it did help us down the stretch because we were able to work it down inside and score some points and draw some fouls.”
Allen voiced concern because they shot only 5-of-12 from the free throw line in the final stanza.
Using a full-court press, the Wildcats forced turnovers and poor shot selection as they grabbed an early lead in the game, 11-4, as they hit 6-of-12 in the quarter.
Utilizing full-court pressure and man-to-man defense is a typical approach for Kenton varsity coach Ryan Miller.
“Our pressure and defense gets our offense going, and the girls like to run and they are better when we push things,” Miller said reflecting on his team gaining the quick lead in the game and battling throughout the contest. “It can also hurt us because we can tire because we are not real deep.”
After falling behind quickly, Redskin sophomore guard Sarah Warner hit a driving bucket to bring Wapak within 11-6 and the Redskins outscored Kenton the 9-2 the rest of the way through the quarter with junior guard Annie Henderson hitting a 3-pointer to get the momentum rolling and senior guard Tasha Helmstetter knotting the game with a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left.
Warner ended the game with 19 points on the night with six boards, while Henderson hit all four of her points in the first quarter and collected four boards throughout the game. Helmstetter hit for six points, five in the first quarter, and grabbed three rebounds in the game as foul trouble kept her to limited playing time from the second quarter on.
Six ties and lead changes in the second quarter watched the Redskins gain a 19-15 lead before losing the lead 22-19 at the midway point. Wapak regained the lead on a Warner 3-pointer, 25-22, at the 2:21 mark, but Kenton closed out the quarter to lead 29-28 at the half.
The second half started with a quick bucket by senior post Courtney Knippen, but the lead was short-lived as the Wildcats came back to take the lead and stay in front until Knippen hit another bucket with 1:52 left. She also sank two free throws a possession later, but the Wildcats hit a 3-pointer of their own and another bucket to close out the quarter and regain the lead.
Knippen scored 10 of her 14 points in the third quarter. She also cleared the glass for seven rebounds in the contest.
Warner gave the Redskins the lead to start the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats scored two quick buckets to take the lead back before Brown blistered the twine for her three 3-pointers.
Miller conceded Brown’s three shots paved the way for the Redskins win, but Warner gave his squad fits.
“She started the game and she just hit her shots — I just wish we would have more of a hand in her face,” Miller said. “In regard to Brown, we just had defensive breakdowns and we just have to keep that from happening. We change our defenses a lot and sometimes that causes problems for the offense and sometimes, because we are young, it leads to defensive breakdowns.”
The balanced scoring and improved play of some youngsters impressed the Wildcat coach.
“That was probably one of our best team games,” Miller said. “Of the three games we have played so far, we had some girls really step up and start to assert themselves tonight.”
Stepping up for Miller, Kenton sophomore guard Brooke Bostleman led the Wildcats in scoring with 15 pints, while senior guard Jackie Stadler hit for 12 points. Junior guard Gwen Downing and senior post Morgan Tudor hit double figures with 10 points each.
Wildcat junior Kaily Whitaker led the team with five rebounds, with Bostleman and Stadler collecting four boards.
Miller’s squad hit 10-of-24 from the field in the first half and finished the game hitting 19-of-44, or 43 percent, including 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. They hit 13-of-21 from the charity stripe.
The Redskins hit 10-of-34 from the field in the first half, but finished the game hitting 21-of-57, or 37 percent, for the game. After hitting only 6-of-15 from behind the arc in the first half, the Redskins hit 6-of-10 in the second including 5-of-7 in the fourth quarter to end the game hitting 11-of-22, or 50 percent.
They converted 11-fo-23 from the free throw line.