Once the nerves subsided, nearly every shot one team took tickled the twine, while the other team struggled to rattle the rim.
The offensive onslaught continued the entire first half as the Wapakoneta Redskins held a 16-0 lead before St. Marys hit a long-range bomb at the first-quarter buzzer. The struggles continued in the second quarter as the Redskins built a 36-7 half-time lead en route to a 61-27 victory.
“They were hot the first half, shooting wise they were putting up a lot of good shots and we had tough time defending the shooters,” said Roughrider varsity girls basketball coach Kelly Fulmer, who fell to 3-14 overall and 1-6 in the WBL. “They got the lead in the beginning and they never held anything back. They played hard, they executed and they did all the little things needed to win.”
The Redskins hit 6-of-14, or 42.8 percent, in the first quarter and ended the first half hitting 12-of-34, or 35.3 percent, while the Roughriders were stone cold, hitting 3-of-22, or 13.6 percent, in the first half.
Reflecting on the first quarter, Fulmer said the Redskins posed a dual threat with players slashing to the basket and grabbing rebounds while also hitting the outside shot. The Redskins hit 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
The quick start resulted from an approach Redskin varsity girls coach Rusty Allen stressed with his team — attack.
“I think we wrote that word on our board for pre-game at least four or five times and that we wanted to come out fast and attack them, get them back on their heels,” Allen said as he watched his team improve to 10-6 overall and 5-2 in the WBL. “I believe our team did a great job of that as we started out on a 16-0 run and I think that was the big difference.
“I think another key to the game which doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is our student section were loud and boisterous and I definitely think they helped the cause as well,” he said.
Senior guard Tasha Helmstetter started the scoring with a 3-pointer, followed moments later by another trifecta from junior guard Nicole Brown. After seniors post Mallory McDevitt and Courtney Knippen hit inside shots, junior guard Annie Henderson closed the quarter with six points.
Knippen, who ended the game with a double-double, started the second quarter with 10 straight unanswered points for Wapak, leading the Redskins to a 26-3 lead before the Roughriders scored a bucket midway through the second quarter. St. Marys did not score again until the clock clicked under a minute to go.
Allen voiced his surprise in the Roughriders’ struggle on the offensive end.
“Having talked with Kelly and watching game film, I know they have had games where they have struggled to shoot and score points, but not to this extent,” said Allen, who noted they have good young players who will improve with experience. “I also have to give some of the credit to our match-up zone because I think our match-up confuses teams, especially young teams like St. Marys and who are not used to seeing stuff like that and it frustrates teams.”
Fulmer regrouped her troops at half-time.
“At the half, we told them we have to go out and play hard, we don’t care if you make mistakes, we don’t care if you miss a shot but you have to go out and play hard,” Fulmer said. “I told them they have to go out and play basketball, play as hard as we do in practice.”
After giving up four quick points to start the second half, the Roughriders battled and won the third quarter 10-8, as they trailed 44-17.
But the damage was done. Allen emptied his bench in the fourth, a group that continued with the same intensity as they won the quarter 17-10.
Wapak’s Knippen led all scorers with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Henderson hit for 15 points and grabbed one rebound. McDevitt scored six points and collected eight boards, while sophomore guard Sara Warner also scored six points and cleared the glass for seven rebounds.
Freshman Megan Watt scored five points leading Helmstetter and Brown with three, Erin Schnell, Carli Buzzard and Lea Stoner hit for two and Karli Schneider hit a free throw.
St. Marys sophomore post Kelsey Rohrbach led the Roughriders in scoring with eight points. She also had three boards. Sophomore guard Reagan Aller hit for five points and collected four rebounds, while sophomore post Mallory Kill led the team with six boards and contributed with four points.
Senior guard Alex Spencer and sophomore guard Bailey Gottschalk hit for three points each, and sophomore post LeeAnn Bertke and junior post Kelly Heitkamp each scored a bucket.
The Wapakoneta Redskins travel to Coldwater to play the Cavaliers on Tuesday and return to WBL action Thursday at Van Wert to play the Cougars.