After watching the Elida Bulldogs dominate the style of play and scoreboard, Wapakoneta Redskin varsity coach Rusty Allen preached to his team to slow down, regain their composure and take over the tempo in the Western Buckeye League matchup.
Allen acknowledged there had to be nervous fans as the Bulldogs came out hot and scored on their first four possessions and hit 9-of-15 from the floor, but he was not one of them.
“We were not executing defensively, but I knew once we settled down and we slowed them down a little bit we would be OK,” Allen said. “My concern on the offensive end was their 1-2-2 frustrated us a little bit at the beginning and we went a little too fast in the beginning and we just had to slow down and pick our time when we could attack it.”
The Redskins responded limiting Elida to 21 points over the next three quarters while they cranked up the offensive engine by scoring 10 in the second followed by 16 in the third and 19 in the final quarter.
Elida varsity co-coach Elise Jenkins said the Bulldogs strayed from the original game plan.
“The problem was our girls just don’t stick to the game plan,” Jenkins said. “When it gets to the heat of the moment and the other team starts to get some momentum, we break down mentally and when they break down mentally we start playing one against five and we can’t get over that hurdle with the girls. They just kind of forget everything that works on offense and what’s been working and they go back to the bad habits.”
Elida varsity co-coach Chrissy Billiter compared her team to each of their opponents this season where they are 4-4 and 2-1 in the WBL and they fall short when it comes to fundamentals.
“We need get to back to our fundamentals — we need to learn how to pass, we need to learn how to dribble, we need to learn how to pick, we need to learn how to cut,” Billiter said. “We shouldn’t have to at the varsity level, but that is what we need to do.”
Those fundamentals fell apart after the first quarter of play.
Trailing 21-10 after the first 8 minutes of play, the Redskins went on an 18-3 run over the next 11 minutes to take the lead at 28-24.
Junior post Carly Buzzard scored 6 points in the first quarter and the first 11 seconds of the second quarter to keep Wapak close. Buzzard ended the game with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Junior wing Megan Watt hit two of her three treys of the first half in the pivotal second quarter to cut the Elida lead to 24-20 at the half. Watt scored 14 points in the game, as she led the team with four 3-pointers, and grabbed two rebounds.
In the second half, senior guard Sara Warner heated up scoring 15 of her 18 points in the second half. Seven of her points came at the free throw line. Warner also grabbed four rebounds.
“Megan has been pretty steady for us and has done this for the last couple of games now for us and kept us in ball games,” Allen said. “Sara is our leading scorer, but Sara unfortunately has been prone to foul trouble these last few games and they are silly fouls.”
He also gave credit to senior guard Erin Schnell for coming off the bench and running the offense during a pivotal time when Warner and sophomore guard Maddi Stiles were in foul trouble early.
The Redskins lost the lead only once at 35-34 with 27 seconds left in the third quarter as they took over the game with another 13-0 run to close out the third and controlling the game for the next 4:33 of the fourth quarter.
Allen said he was surprised at this juncture that the Bulldogs didn’t revert to full court pressure to try to take the Redskins out of their comfort zone. Jenkins responded that is hard to do with their taller girls on the floor.
Stiles scored all of her six points in the fourth quarter, while sophomore post Riley Culver hit buckets in the second and fourth quarter for her 4 points. Culver led the team in rebounding by corralling 12 missed shots.
Elida sophomore Sabrina Kline led the Bulldogs with 11 points. Seniors Cassidy Slusher and Ashley Lowry each scored 9 points. Senior Carly Stetler led the team with 7 rebounds, while Kline and senior Torie McAdams each had five boards.
In JV action, the Redskins beat the Bulldogs, 55-28. Leading the JV team in scoring was sophomores Cori Hager with 10 points, Faith Hensley with 9 points and Emily Klopfenstein with 8 points. Freshmen Allie Zofkie contributed with 8 points, Blasia Moyler hit for 6 and Madison Watt scored 5. Others scoring included freshman Brooke Schlenker with 4 points, sophomore Kasey Helmstetter and freshmen Megan Smith with a bucket and Sydney Sutton with a free throw.