The Wapakoneta Redskins have become quite proficient this season at the fourth-quarter comeback.
So when they walked onto the court down nine points with eight minutes to play Friday night against Bath, there was little cause for concern.
But there would be no comeback this time.
It was too little, too late.
The Bath Wildcats used a balanced offensive attack and took advantage of a lackluster showing by the Redskins to pull away to a 61-47 win in a Western Buckeye League varsity boys basketball game at Wapakoneta High School.
“It seems like we’ve got to be down 10 points in the fourth quarter to start really playing hard defensively,” Wapak varsity coach Matt Bradley said. “It’s got to be that way all the time.”
Bath had four players in double figures. Seniors Brad Davis and Nate Heffner led the way for the Wildcats with 14 points apiece. After a slow start, Davis got into a rhythm in the third quarter and scored 13 of his points in the second half.
Sophomore Taren Sullivan added 13 points and junior Cole Chambers chipped in with 11.
“Taking nothing away from them, because they’re a very skilled offensive team, but it’s kind of like a perfect storm,” Bradley said. “We’re a really bad defensive team and they’re a really good offensive team.
“We thought we were in a really good spot at the half. But we refused to go all-out at the defensive end. And that’s my fault as a coach. I’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get better because it’s going to be more of the same if we refuse to work hard defensively.”
Down just 25-22 at the half, Wapak watched as the Wildcats stretched the gap to 12 points with 3:06 left in the third.
At one point late in the third, Bradley pulled all five players off the floor and sent in subs.
“One possession in particular, we gave up three offensive rebounds,” Bradley said. “We just stood around and watched. We don’t seem to care right now about getting stops. Defense is all about pride. And right now we’re more concerned with other things, whatever those things may be, than getting stops.”
The Redskins defense forced just six turnovers the entire game. Wapak wasn’t any more aggressive on the offensive end, making just five trips to the free throw line.
Perhaps the most telling statistic of the game: Bath converted 16 free throws to just three for Wapak, a 13-point difference in a 14-point loss.
“We definitely need to attack more,” Bradley said. “We don’t get to the foul line enough. ... We’ve got to work inside-out. We settled for a lot of threes. We shot 20 threes — that’s way too many — because we’re settling. We had some opportunities where we could get a backdoor look. But guys are not seeing it, not going, not cutting. And that’s something we need to address.”
Wapak hung with Bath early thanks to a strong first quarter from junior Jake Buzzard. Buzzard scored nine on three 3-pointers in the first quarter before getting into foul trouble in the second. He didn’t score again until the third quarter and finished with 16 points.
“At the start of the game they were getting good penetration then kicking out to Buzzard and he was knocking them down,” Bath varsity coach Doug Davis said. “It was to our advantage that he got into foul trouble. We tried to get guys to stop the penetration without helping because we really didn’t want to help off of Buzzard.”
Buzzard connected on 6 of 8 from the floor (75 percent) and 4 of 6 (67 percent) on 3-pointers.
Junior Travis Bertram matched his season average with 17 points. Bertram was 7-of-17 (41 percent) overall from the floor and 2-of-8 (25 percent) from three-point range.
Wapak fell to 3-6 overall on the season and 0-2 in the WBL.
Bath is 6-3 overall and 1-1 in league play.
The Redskins return to action next Friday to take on the Bulldogs at Celina Fieldhouse.
JV ups record to 8-1
The Redskins junior varsity squad improved to 8-1 on the season with a 44-41 win over the Wildcats.
Wapak had to hold off a fourth-quarter rally for the win.
Bath opened the final stanza with nine unanswered points to cut a 39-28 lead to just 39-37 with 2:20 to play.
But the Redskins got a couple steals and were 4-of-6 from the free throw line in the final 50 seconds to hang on for the win.
Freshman Kodi Morgan led Wapak with 14 points. Jake Bruns and Zach Schmerge added nine apiece. Adam Henderson chipped in with six.