OTTAWA — The Wapakoneta boys basketball team knew it would need to play the game of the year to roll into Ottawa to upset the one-loss Titans.
The Redskins struggled to get anything going offensively, mostly due to the stifling defense from the Ottawa-Glandorf Titans.
Scoring was at a premium for the Redskins, and they couldn’t find the bottom of the basket enough as the Redskins fell to the Titans Friday night, 55-37.
“I thought we had a lot of good looks tonight, we got the shots that we wanted, shots that we make typically, and we just couldn’t make them,” said Matt Bradley, Wapakoneta varsity coach.
The Redskins were completely shut down in the first half of play, and Ottawa-Glandorf was able to amass a 25-12 lead going into halftime.
The Titans never looked back.
“In the post tonight I thought they physically manhandled us. We had a hard time getting it in (to the post),” Bradley said. “They are a very good defensive team. We’ve got to do a better job of getting other guys open.”
Ottawa-Glandorf varsity coach Tyson McGlaughlin said he was happy with the defensive effort of his team.
“I thought defensively we were really good, especially in the first half, and that all starts with Matthew Kaufman,” McGlaughlin said. “We really challenged him to get after (Alex) Greve and disrupt their offense. Greve ended up with five points, and only two of those were on Kaufman.”
The only Redskin that was able to score in double digits was senior Travis Bertram. Bertram finished the game with 22 points, more than half of Wapakoneta’s scoring.
“It was good to see Travis attacking the rim. It was a confidence thing, he made his first couple shots and then it felt like the weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders,” Bradley said.
McGlaughlin said Bertram’s scoring was the only problem with the Titan defense Friday.
“We got a little sloppy with Bertram, we let him get to the foul line way too much,” McGlaughlin said. “Eleven of his (22) points came from the foul line, and that’s something that can’t happen.”
Ottawa-Glandorf was able to contain the other two scorers for Wapakoneta effectively. Both Alex Greve and Jake Buzzard are averaging in double digits this year for the Redskins. Friday night Greve only had five points and Buzzard had two points.
Defensively we challenge our guys, that’s the nice thing about having a lot of seniors. They want a challenge. They want a chance at the other team’s best players,” McGlaughlin said of his seniors. “I thought we made it tough on (Buzzard) every time he touched the ball. When you play a good team with good offensive players you need to make them earn their baskets.”
Bradley said he was happy with his team’s defensive effort for the most part, but stressed the importance of grabbing the rebound. Something Wapakoneta did not do well Friday night.
“I thought we did a really good job on forcing them into contested shots, but we didn’t box out. We said all week this is the best rebounding team we’re going to play all year,” Bradley said. “When we defended them well on the first shot, we allowed them a second shot, more times than not it was a layup and an and-1 every time, it seemed like.”
The whole game was a physical match for both teams, and both the Redskins and the Titans were in the double bonus for most of the fourth quarter.
“They knew they had to come after us a little bit (in the second half,)” McGlaughlin said. “Our guys did a pretty good job of handling it. We only had four turnovers on the night, so obviously we value the basketball.”
Ottawa-Glandorf went to the line 27 times, converting on 17 of those attempts. Wapakoneta went to the line 18 times, with 14 of them finding the bottom of the bucket.
“We got a lot of attempts, but I don’t think we realize the object is to put it in the basket, but we got to the line,” McGlaughlin said. “That’s just being strong with the basketball.”
Bradley said credit goes to Ottawa-Glandorf, as he said this is one of the best teams he has seen this season.
“They are an outstanding team. That’s a team that returns everyone from a state-tournament (run), and they play like it,” Bradley said.
Leading the way for the Titans was T.J. Metzger with 17 points. Michael Rosebrock and Caleb Siefker both added 12 points to the Titan total.
“In some ways I think we were maybe awestruck by the moment. We’re right in the thick of the league race and we’re coming into OG, which is a tough place to play,” Bradley said.
In JV action, Ottawa-Glandorf easily defeated the Redskins, 47-22. Cory Crawford led the Redskins in scoring with seven points.
The Redskins fall to 8-6 on the season, and 2-3 in Western Buckeye league play. Ottawa-Glandorf improves to 13-1 on the season, undefeated in the WBL at 5-0.
The Redskins reload tonight with an away game against Minster.