BATH TOWNSHIP — Controlling the boards can be just as important as putting the rock through the net in basketball and Wapakoneta found out that lesson the hard way in its 55-36 loss to Bath in a key Western Buckeye League matchup Thursday night.
By outrebounding the Redskins, 36-18, the Wildkittens overcame a subpar offensive night to stave off a determined yet frustrated Redskin squad which continually watched Bath get two and some time three shots at scoring by snaring carom after carom.
This marks Wapakoneta’s first loss in league play as they fall to 2-1 and even their overall record to 4-4. Bath remains unbeaten in conference play at 3-0 and improves to 9-1 for the season.
Redskin varsity coach Rusty Allen said the Redskins struggle on the boards was just one reason that contributed to the loss.
“We didn’t do a very good job of finding our man and putting a body on them and it seemed like when we did bump them or touch them the ball didn’t bounce our way,” Allen said. “I thought defensively we did an o.k. job. I don’t know if that was our best performance defensively because you have got to finish it up by getting your rebounds but I think we made them take some shots we were comfortable with having them take and hoping we would go get that rebound but we didn’t complete the process.”
Even though the Redskins were forcing tough shots, so was Bath and Allen said his team never got going on the offensive end.
“Offensively we didn’t execute,” Allen said. “I give credit to Coach (Greg) Mauk. They did an outstanding job of pushing us away from the basket at times and just getting us out of sync."
Allen said it was Bath’s full court pressure that really made Wapakoneta work just to get up the court and once they passed the midcourt line they found themselves working just as hard to find an open shot.
“Obviously we have got to get better offensively in terms of our execution,” Allen said. “I think there was some times tonight that we just didn’t execute and didn’t have girls in the right spot.”
Both teams struggled early offensively and as the first quarter neared the one minute mark, the score was knotted at 8-8. However, Bath, thanks to their defense, put together a modest 7-0 run and as first stanza came to a close, the Wildkittens led 15-8.
The Redskin offensive woes continued in the second quarter as Bath outscored Wapakoneta 10-2 in the first six minutes to open up a 25-10 cushion with just 1:45 remaining in the first half.
But some smothering defense by Wapakoneta, a 3-pointer from Redskin sophomore Sara Warner at the one-minute mark cut the lead down to 12. Bath notched two free throws in the final minute to up the lead back to 14 but Wapakoneta knew that this could have been much more if not their defensive effort.
Warner, who would be the lone Redskin to eclipse the double digit barrier with 15 points, gave Wapakoneta a glimmer of hope when she scored the first four points to open the second half to narrow the gap to 27-17, at the 7:03 mark of third quarter.
However, like most good teams, Bath quickly responded with an 8-0 burst to re-establish their lead and go up 35-17 with just under four minutes left in the quarter.
Wapakoneta once again mounted another small 7-0 run to creep back to within 11, 35-24, after Warner hit two from the charity stripe, however, Wapakoneta failed to narrow the game and by the time the final period was ready to commence, Bath owned a 40-27 advantage.
Even though Wapakoneta had done all it could do to chip away at the lead in the first three periods, the Redskins, other than Warner, could not find the offense to mount a serious run in the final eight minutes and Bath was able to secure the huge WBL victory.
Even though Bath varsity coach Greg Mauk took home the victory, he was not pleased with his team’s overall effort especially in the second half when he probably felt the Wildkittens should have put the Redskins away.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we played in the second half at all,” Mauk said. “I thought we were extremely sloppy and didn’t play smart. At three minutes to go in the third quarter the fouled were eight on us and one on them. We are playing with a lead and that is how we played. That makes no sense.”
Mauk did say his team did a good job with their full court press in the first half but said once his team reached the bonus level in fouls he had to call off the dogs, or in this case the Wildkittens. He added that he felt Bath’s foul problems allowed Wapakoneta to stay in the game.
Taylor Dackin led the Wildkittens’ well-balanced attack with 13 points. Teammate Emily Ruhe chipped in 12 and Audrey Brandon notched 10.
“I thought we were very inconsistent around the rim,” Mauk said. “We shot 35 percent from the floor and 18 percent from the 3-point line. Those are not good numbers.”
Despite the loss and the team’s 4-4 record, Allen said he still feel his team is ready to compete with the best in the area and must continue to learn and improve as they move into the heart of the season.
“We still feel like we are a pretty good ballclub,” Allen said. “We look at the teams we got beat by I would say three of the four are going to be state ranked teams. We just know we have gotten beaten by some good teams but we have played with them.”
In junior varsity action, Bath defeated Wapakoneta 49-35. Megan Watt led the Redskins with 16 points.
Johns 3-0-8, Brandon 3-5-10, Holler 3-0-6, Herr 1-0-2, Clark 0-2-2, Ruhe 5-2-12, Dackin 5-2-13, Singhaus 2-0-4, 22-11-55.
Henderson 3-0-6, Brown 1-0-2, Warner 4-4-15, Helmstetter 2-1-8, Knippen 1-1-3, McDermitt 1-0-2; 12-6-36.
Wapakoneta: Helmstetter (1) Warner (1)
Bath: Johns (2) Dackin (1)
WAPAKONETA 08 05 14 09 — 36
BATH 15 12 13 15 — 55