LIMA — The Celina Bulldogs were good for long enough Tuesday in their sectional win over the Wapakoneta Redskins.
They took control of the game early, and despite some sloppy play late, handled themselves after a heartbreaking loss to end the Western Buckeye League season.
Celina earned a 54-41 victory Tuesday over Wapakoneta in a Division II boys basketball sectional semifinal at Lima Senior High School.
Tuesday’s game was the opposite of the two schools’ WBL meeting in January.
Wapakoneta (5-18) hung with Celina for three periods before the host Bulldogs pulled away in the fourth for a 68-59 win.
On Tuesday the Bulldogs were in control for three periods, but once they started substituting for starters regularly, the game was more even in the fourth.
Wapak held a 6-4 lead in the first period before Celina went on 14-2 run to take a double-digit lead, 18-8, with 5:39 left in the second period.
Celina sophomore Ryan Hoyng posted three straight baskets in the second period as Celina rolled up to a 30-16 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs turned on the pressure to start the third period, as their senior post Mason Ross scored nine straight points in the interior as part of a 13-4 run to begin the second half.
Celina led by 21 after three periods, 48-27.
The Redskins returned their deficit to 14 points in the fourth period before the final margin settled at 13 points, 54-41.
Redskins coach Doug Selvey said he feels Celina as a team is good at making adjustments, and the Bulldogs’ adjustment Tuesday was to start pounding the ball into the post on offense and increasing their physicality.
“Teams in the second half have pounded it in against us and it willed themselves to victory,” he said. “That’s something Celina did today pretty well.”
Selvey also mentioned Celina’s size as a problem for his team.
“Something I’ve gotten accustomed to since being in this area how important size us. It’s important. You can’t teach size. Their size and their length is something that has given us problems all year.”
Celina will take on the Bath Wildcats in a Division II sectional final Friday at Lima Senior High School.
Hoyng and Ross combined to score 23 of their 25 points in the middle two periods Tuesday, with Hoyng posting nine in the second and Ross tallying 11 in the third.
Ross finished with 13 for the game, and Hoyng totaled 12.
Grant Laffin added eight points for the Bulldogs.
Adam Henderson paced Wapak with 11 points. Corey Crawford tallied eight points for the Redskins. Ethan Good added two 3-pointers for six points.
In their first season under Selvey, the Redskins started the season 1-13 which included a 10-game loss streak. They went 4-5 in the final nine games of the season.
Selvey commented on who is leaving and who is returning to the team for next season.
“The big thing is we lose three seniors who have dedicated themselves to the program,” he said. “We have 8-10 kids who now have experience in this situation for the future. That’s definitely we can look forward to. I definitely tried to focus on telling them that this is good experience. You can’t teach the tournament atmosphere. It’s a completely different situation than anything else.”
Wapak seniors Jake Bruns, Zach Schmerge and Alec Temple played in their final career high school game Tuesday.
Selvey said his message after the game to the program’s returning players was focused on spending time over the summer to improve.
“That’s something we really want to push in the future here, to get the kids in the gym,” the coach said. “The school board approved a new football coach (Tuesday), and I see nothing but collaboration between he and I. That’s a big thing to have. Any time you’re going to have successful programs, you really want to have the head coaches on the same page working around each other and not conflicting with one another.”
The Redskins will return all five starters next season — point guard Good, shooting guard Kodi Morgan, small forward Keaton Metz, power forward Adam Henderson and center Crawford.
The team will also return guards Jarrett Koch and Sam Hinegardner and forward Aaron Huffman.