The Wapakoneta Redskin boys basketball team drew the No. 3 seed in their Sectional Tournament Sunday afternoon, and they now await a match-up against the No. 4 seed Celina Bulldogs in the first round.
The top-seed Bath Wildcats chose the top half of the bracket, and the next four seeds chose the bottom half of the bracket until it was full to avoid playing the Wildcats for as long as possible.
“The draw went just about as we expected,” Wapakoneta varsity coach Matt Bradley. “We thought we were going to be the No. 3 seed, and we thought Celina was going to be the No. 4 seed. We kind of had a feeling they were going to opt to play us, staying away from Bath.”
On the same side as Wapakoneta’s bracket, the Elida Bulldogs drew the No. 2 seed, and they will take on the No. 5-seed Van Wert Cougars in the first round. On Bath’s side of the bracket, the Kenton Wildcats drew the No. 6 seed, and will play No. 7 St. Marys Roughriders. And the Shawnee Indians, drawing the No. 8 seed, will take on Bath in the first round.
Bradley talked about the Redskin-Bulldog matchup in January, and how he thought both teams have improved a lot.
“When we played them in January they were struggling a little bit, but they are a team that has improved a lot since then,” Bradley said. “But we feel like we’re playing a lot better since then as well.
“It should be a pretty good match-up,” he said.
Bradley said he picked away from Bath for obvious reasons, but they need to take this tournament one game at a time.
“Bath is phenomenal this year, we obviously want to avoid them as long as possible, but we can’t even start thinking about Elida or Van Wert yet,” Bradley said. “Our focus has to be on the rest of the regular season, and on Celina. One game at a time.”
Bradley said he wasn’t surprised no one picked in the top bracket until they absolutely had to make the decision. On Jan. 4, Bath destroyed Wapakoneta, 66-32.
“Our thinking was that we wanted to avoid Bath for as long as possible,” Bradley said.
Bradley said the Redskins have been preparing for this type of play for the last couple games, treating every game like it is a “win-or-go home scenario.”
“The last several weeks we’ve really talked about treating each game like a tournament game,” Bradley said. “We’ve been out of the league race for quite some time now, so our goal now is to win that Sectional Title and get to the District Tournament.”
The top two teams from the Sectional move on to the District Tournament.
“Once you get there, anything can happen,” Bradley said.
Bradley said the Redskins need to stay level-headed, however, as they still have three regular season games ahead of them — the Coldwater Cavaliers, Shawnee and Kenton.
“We’re excited about the tournament, but we know we still have some work ahead of us,” Bradley said.
Bradley said some of the things they are going to work on these last three games is sound defense and ball control.
“Obviously we’re trying to get better. We had some breakdowns defensively, and that can’t happen in a tournament,” Bradley said. “If we win this Friday night we’ll be above .500 in the league for the first time since I’ve been here. And if we win out, we’ll have 14 wins, which will be nice.”
But just as the Redskins have been playing the last couple games, Bradley wants to continue to take it one game at a time, and that starts with Shawnee.
“We have a tough test at Shawnee Friday night,” Bradley said. “‘They are a team that is better than their record.
“We have to take care of Shawnee before we can even think about Coldwater and Kenton, let alone Celina in the tournament,” he said.
Wapakoneta’s sectional game is to be played at Lima Senior High School and the Sectional starts Feb. 26.