ST. MARYS — With head coach Dan Hegemier absent from Friday’s game, the St. Marys Roughriders pulled out a win over the Wapakoneta Redskins in a tight Western Buckeye League varsity boys basketball contest.
The Roughriders led by either one or two possessions the entire second half minus two instances midway through the fourth period when they pushed their lead to eight.
Wapakoneta rallied to cut its deficit twice to two points late in the contest but could not come all the way back as St. Marys managed a 48-41 win.
Hegemier missed Friday’s game to travel to North Carolina to attend the birth of a new grandchild from his only daughter.
“Our kids, with Coach (Hegemier) not being here, had to step it up,” said St. Marys junior varsity coach Tony Arling, who served as head coach in both games of Friday’s doubleheader. “They did their part.”
The second time St. Marys had an eight-point lead, at 41-33, the team appeared to be sealing the game but one basket each by Kodi Morgan, Adam Henderson and Zach Schmerge over the next three-and-a-half minutes brough the Redskins with two, 41-39, with 1:30 left in the game.
St. Marys’ Isaac Fitzgerald answered to put St. Marys ahead by four, 43-39.
Each team missed the front end of a one-and-one then Morgan scored again to bring the St. Marys lead down to two, 43-41.
Sent to the free-throw line with 25.7 seconds left, Nathan Wilker made the first but missed the second, with Schmerge grabbing the rebound. The Wapak senior raced down the floor only to turn the ball over on what would be Wapak’s final chance in a one-possession scenario.
The Roughriders made four straight free throws to clinch the victory.
“It was a team effort,” Arling said. “The guys played hard, every single one of them.”
St. Marys led 24-22 at halftime then Wapak tied the game with two free throws 13 seconds into the second half.
The Roughriders took the lead for good on a basket by Quinn Zaerr.
St. Marys had eight 2-pointers and eight 3-pointers in Friday’s game.
Wapak varsity coach Doug Selvey felt rotation issues allowed St. Marys to begin having success on 3-pointers.
“We got lost defensively and they hit open shots,” he said. “When you shoot that many, especially offensive rebound after offensive rebound, you’re bound to hit some.”
Fitzgerald, Nathan Wilker and Josh Young hit two 3s each Friday.
Arling said the reliance on the 3-point shot increased as the game wore on.
“It just kinda happened,” he said. “We wanted to go inside initially to get Quinn going. But the kids shared the ball well, they felt pressure, kicked the ball out and hit shots.”
Selvey explained whether he was comfortable with how many 3-pointers St. Marys attempted.
“It was too many,” Selvey said. “I like to contest them as much as possible. We weren’t able to contest them like I wanted. I’m a little disappointed from the standpoint of where our game plan was and the execution part of it.”
Wilker led the Roughriders with 15 points. Fitzgerald had eight, and Zaerr notched seven.
Morgan paced Wapak with 13 points. Henderson added 12.
Arling was pleased to hold Redskins junior Keaton Metz to five points after Metz scored 25 in three quarters Tuesday against Ada.
Wapak’s 41 points Friday came after scoring a season-high 81 on Tuesday.
“We weren’t attacking as much as what we have in the past,” Selvey said. “Us not attacking is not a good thing. When we take a lot of outside jumpers and not go to the basket, it’s not a good thing. We have to be able to attack the basket; it sets up shooters for us.
“We didn’t do the things we normally do. We didn’t play Wapakoneta basketball tonight.”
St. Marys’ win Friday kept Wapakoneta winless in the WBL.
The Roughriders are now 7-10 overall and 2-5 in the league, while the Redskins’ record now is 2-14, 0-6.
Each team will play again tonight in non-league action.
Arling said Hegemier planned to leave North Carolina at 5 a.m. today in order to return to Ohio in time for St. Marys’ road game tonight against Minster.
Wapak will host Sidney at home.
St. Marys’ junior varsity rallied from a 26-22 halftime deficit to post a 43-41 win over Wapakoneta on Friday.
The Roughriders’ Carter Bowman sank four 3s for all 12 of his points. Jordan Fisher also scored 12 for St. Marys.
Will Hinegardner posted a game-high 14 points for Wapakoneta.
St. Marys’ JV game will start at 6 p.m. tonight, while the JV contest at Wapakoneta will tip off at 5:30 p.m.