Fifteen minutes after the conclusion of the Wapakoneta Redskins’ 56-42 loss to the Marion Local Flyers on Tuesday night, Redskins varsity girls basketball coach Rusty Allen still hadn’t emerged from the home lockerroom.
Once he did, Allen knew what the first question was going to be.
“It was the call,” Allen said.
“The call” was what Allen would later describe as a “phantom charge” against senior guard Tasha Helmstetter.
With Wapak rallying and the Flyers clinging to a 47-42 lead late in the fourth quarter, Helmstetter grabbed a Marion Local turnover and led a 2-on-1 fast break to other end.
At the last second, the Marion Local defender stepped in front of Helmstetter, whose layup appeared to cut the Flyer lead to three.
But Helmstetter was whistled for a charge and the basket was waived off.
Allen erupted from the Wapak bench as a chorus of ‘boos’ rained down on the court.
The official warned Allen, “That’s enough of that,” before hitting him with a technical foul.
Marion Local’s Margaret Wuebker made both free throws and Brooke Winner added a basket on the ensuing possession.
Wapak would not score again as the Flyers rattled off nine unanswered points to close out the contest.
“I don’t normally blame things on the officials,” Allen said. “I think they’re pretty fair. You’re always going to have a call here and there that you disagree with. But I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a call that I’m going to disagree with more than that call.
“It just took the wind out of our sails. ... We weren’t shooting the ball real well. We were doing everything we could in that second half to try to get back in that game. Then to have a call made like that, which I think was very questionable, then to not listen to my side of the story, I think even compounded the whole incident.
“I’ll be frank. I didn’t say anything I’ve never said to officials that I wouldn’t say to my own kids in the house. It wasn’t like anything vulgar came out of my mouth. But it is what it is and you’ve still got to play the game.”
Wapak had to claw its way from behind after an abysmal first quarter in which it connected on just 2-of-17 shot attempts as the Flyers pulled out to a 13-4 advantage.
“We were getting good looks,” Allen said. “It think sometimes we were maybe rushing our shot a little bit, because they (Marion Local) are a little bit bigger. Getting a hand in our face might have distracted us a little bit more than what we originally thought.”
Said Marion Local coach Treva Fortkamp, “We tried to utilize that (height advantage). Give them credit. They didn’t quit.”
Marion Local’s lead fluctuated anywhere from seven to 16 points over the next two quarters. Four times Wapak cut the lead to single digits. And each time the Flyers responded to stretch the margin again.
Junior guard Nicole Brown led Wapak with 12 points on 4-of-6 from the three-point line. Wapak had success getting her open using a double screen at the top of the key.
“After the third time, we told them at halftime what to do,” Fortkamp said. “And I don’t know, sometimes they don’t listen. But we got two blocks right after that and got a distraction. Brown just was killing us at that spot.”
The Redskins finally hit their stride in the fourth quarter, slicing Marion Local’s lead from 43-30 to start the quarter to 47-42 with just more than two minutes to play before the charge and subsequent technical foul.
“We knew we were capable of making that run,” Allen said. “It was just a matter of, OK, when are we going to make that extra stop to get it within four or five. We got it within five, Tasha got the steal and took it down. It looked like she (the defender) was underneath the basket when she took the charge — or ‘phantom charge.’
“You can’t blame it on just that call. But that was a huge momentum swing.”
Marion Local improved to 5-1. Wapak fell to 4-3.
The Redskins are off until Thursday, Jan. 5 when they travel to Bath to take on the Wildcats.
In the JV contest, Wapak broke a 29-29 tie in the fourth quarter and pulled away for a 38-31 win.
Karli Schneider’s 3-pointer with three minutes to play started the Redskins’ run. And Freshman Sarah Horman knocked down back-to-back jumpers to keep the rally going.
Freshman Megan Watt led Wapak with 13 points.
Horman added eight points. Freshman Lea Stoner chipped in seven. And Schneider scored six.
Marion Local 56, Wapak 42
Score by quarters:
Quarter 1 2 3 4 - F
Marion L. 13 17 13 13 - 56
Wapak 4 16 10 12 - 52
Ashley Wilker 0-0-0, Leah Puthoff 0-0-0, Allie Thobe 3-1-7, Megan Kuether 4-2-11, Margaret Wuebker 4-3-12, Darian Bergman 1-0-2, Brooke Winner 3-1-7, Chelsea Winner 4-2-11, Megan Seitz 3-0-6; Totals 22-9-56.
Annie Henderson 2-0-5, Amy Hume 0-0-0, Nicole Brown 4-0-12, Sara Warner 3-0-8, Mallory McDevitt 3-0-6, Tasha Helmstetter 1-0-2, Courtney Knippen 2-5-9 Carly Buzzard 0-0-0, Karli Schneider 0-0-0; Totals 15-5-42.
3-pointers: ML — Kuether 1, Wuebker 1, C. Winner 1; W — Brown 4, Warner 2, Henderson 1.
Records: Marion Local 5-1; Wapakoneta 4-3.
JV score: Wapak, 38-31.