CELINA — The Wapakoneta Redskins kept pace with the Celina Bulldogs for nearly all four quarters Friday.
The second of two 3-pointers by junior Keaton Metz gave the Redskins a 41-39 lead with 3:20 left in the third period. Celina, however, went on an 11-0 run to take a nine-point lead, 50-39, a minute into the fourth period.
Wapak managed to bring its deficit to two possessions three times in the final quarter but Celina scored its final 16 points from the foul line to seal a 68-59 victory in Western Buckeye League varsity boys basketball action Friday at the Celina Fieldhouse.
“They got ahead with their ability to run the court,” Wapak varsity coach Doug Selvey said about Celina’s 11-0 run. “They got some easy scores at that time. It’s a matter of us getting better at transition defense.”
The Bulldogs (8-3, 3-1) stayed atop the WBL in a tie for first place with their win Friday. They are now tied with four others at one league loss.
Their loss Friday was the Redskins’ eighth in a row and dropped them to 1-11 overall, 0-3 in the WBL.
The two teams swapped the lead eight times in the first period Friday.
Celina broke a 16-16 tie after the first period on its first field goal of the second and held that lead until halftime, as the Bulldogs held a 32-29 lead at the break.
Wapak did all it could to hang on in Friday’s first half, as Selvey used four of his five timeouts before halftime.
Celina led until the second of Metz’s two 3-pointers in the third period.
A basket by Metz at 4:49 brought Wapak’s deficit to a two-possession game for the first time in the fourth.
The Redskins kept the game at two possessions as late as 30 seconds to go in the game but a turnover doomed their comeback efforts, while Celina clinched the game with six straight made free throws.
The Bulldogs had five players post double figures in scoring Friday, operating a well-balanced inside-outside attack against Wapak.
Ryan Hoyng paced Celina with 18 points, 10 of them coming on free throws.
Mason Ross added 12, Grant Laffin scored 11, while Eric Moeder and Logan DeLong each had 10.
The Bulldogs made more free throws (24) than field goals (20) in Friday’s game.
Wapak used a combination of Kodi Morgan and Ethan Good, who started Friday for the first time this season, to handle Celina’s full-court pressure Friday.
A team that has struggled against pressure all season, the Redskins committed just 10 turnovers Friday.
Metz had a strong offensive performance Friday, as he shared the game high in points with 18, which included three 3-pointers, and recorded five assists.
Adam Henderson posted 13 points for the Redskins.
Jake Bruns posted eight points off of the bench for Wapak.
Selvey provided his reaction to Friday’s game, what he called the team’s best performance of the season.
“I thought we played well,” he said. “The first three-and-a-half quarters we competed. Even the fourth quarter was a never-say-die attitude. That’s the first time I’ve seen this out of these guys. We can compete with anyone.”
Selvey sensed belief out his team in Friday’s game.
“I told the kids in the locker room I thought we took two steps forward today. I truly believe our kids can do anything if they put their mind to it.”
Selvey, considering the team’s performance and enthusiasm Friday, feels it is time for Wapak to begin competing regularly in games and land its first win in over a month.
“It’s time,” the coach said. “Basketball is unlike any other sport. So much goes into it. You really have to work at it. I truly believe the kids are just now getting where they need to be on the offensive end and realizing what they do wrong on the defensive end.
“Looking at our schedule, we have some opportunities to pick up some W’s.”
Wapak will seek its first win of 2014 next Friday at home in a WBL game against the Defiance Bulldogs, who are tied atop the league.
Celina will host Linden McKinley tonight for its next game and travel to St. Marys next Friday for its next WBL contest.
Celina swept Friday’s doubleheader with a 45-33 win in the junior varsity game.
Sean Kirk had 18 points to pace Celina.
Will Hinegardner led the Redskins with 10 points. Aaron Huffman added seven, while Nolan Brandehoff notched six for Wapak.