WAPAKONETA — The Lima Senior Spartans travelled to Wapakoneta to take on the Redskin’s boys basketball team, and the athletic ability of the Spartans proved to be too much for the ‘Skins.
The Spartans, led by senior guard Devon Allen who had 20 points, were able to down the undefeated Redskins, 64-58.
It looked like it was going to be a blowout. The Spartan lead was 16 points after the first quarter and a 24-point lead with 2:35 remaining in the second quarter.
But the theme of Tuesday’s game was resiliency.
“Wapak was well coached, they played a good game,” said Spartan varsity coach Sean Allen.
Wapakoneta was able to go on a run at the end of the first half to narrow the margin to 17 at the break, 42-25.
“We found a little bit of success late in the first half, kind of spreading them out and attacking with the dribble to kind of keep their traps away from us,” said Matt Bradley, Redskin varsity coach. “You can’t spot a good team like Lima Senior a 20-point lead and expect to win.
“I thought they came out the aggressor,” he said. “And I thought we came out shell-shocked a little bit.”
To start the third quarter, senior Alex Greve hit a quick 3-pointer, another shot and some big free throws to cut the lead to 44-33.
Down the stretch, Redskin senior Travis Bertram took over the game creating turnovers, driving to the basket and picking up big offensive rebounds.
At the end of the third quarter, Wapakoneta was making it clear that this was going to be a ball game. Lima Senior still led, 50-37.
“I’ll be honest, with a young basketball team, it’s hard to play with a big lead. Wapak was well coached, they played a good game,” Allen said.
In the fourth quarter, aided by foul line visits and Bertram’s scoring, the Redskins were able to cut the lead to as little as four points.
“I’m proud of the way we did battle in the second half,” Bradley said.
But In the end, Lima Senior was able to make its free throws and put the game away for good.
Bertram finished with a game-high 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting. Senior Jake Buzzard picked up 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Greve had 13 points and five rebounds.
“This is three night’s in a row where Travis (Bertram) has played really, really well,” Bradley said. “I didn’t feel like he forced many shots tonight. I think that he’s realizing that when he attacks the rim he is very hard to guard. I thought he did a great job not forcing a whole lot. I don’t think he attempted many 3-pointers, he was all attack, which is what we want out of him.”
Lima Senior was giving the Redskins an athletic press throughout the entire game, forcing several first-half turnovers.
“We prepared for the press yesterday,” Bradley said. “We weren’t surprised by it. Obviously our JV team athletically and Lima Senior’s varsity team athletically are quite different. We’ve got to be ready to handle that kind of pressure mentally more than anything else.”
But in the second half, when Lima Senior faced some foul trouble, the Redskins started to figure it out.
“I think anytime that you press anybody for the whole game, they are going to figure it out,” Allen said. “We have a couple different things that we can do. Then when we get limited because of fouls, then you really have a couple different presses you can use. I thought in the third quarter the whistle got a little tighter, and they started shooting free throws.”
Bradley said he was disappointed with the way his team started, but proud of the way they finished.
“All the credit to Lima Senior tonight,” Bradley said. “We came out tonight kind of wide-eyed.”
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