PAULDING — The pace of Thursday’s game between the Wapakoneta Redskins and the Napoleon Wildcats was about as slow as a modern basketball game can be played. The two teams crawled to the finish line in their tournament game, but Wapakoneta was patient enough defensively and executed enough in timely situations to lead the entire game.
The Redskins emerged with a 31-19 win Thursday in a Division II girls basketball district semifinal at Paulding High School.
“I gotta give our defense credit,” Wapak varsity coach Rusty Allen said. “I know their team is pretty methodical, offensively, but we didn’t have lapses. We continued to play defense for 40, 45 and 50 seconds.
“I’ve got to give the girls kudos on that.”
Wapak led 7-1 after the first period and 12-5 at halftime.
The two teams played even in the third quarter, a 5-5 tie, to the point where Napoleon was still very much in the game entering the final period.
A two by Napoleon’s Lindsay Ferguson, the first points of the fourth period, reduced Wapak’s lead to two possessions at 17-12.
The Redskins, following a timeout, received a much-needed off-balance jumper at the top of the key by Maddi Stiles.
After an offensive foul on Napoleon, Sara Warner dumped a pass to Carly Buzzard for a bucket to put Wapak ahead by nine, 21-12, with 5:04 to play.
A 3-pointer by the Redskins’ Karli Schneider at 4:00 pushed her team’s lead to double digits, 24-14, for the first time in the game.
Stiles put the already-cold contest on ice with a jumper at 2:55 to seal the win for Wapak, leading 27-16.
Wapak tried to increase its own tempo on offense seemingly all night, but Napoleon’s tendency to be deliberate with its offensive possessions took away flow and rhythm from the Redskins’ offense.
“You work on things as much as you can,” Allen said .”They look good in practice, and then you come out here where the bright lights are on and the crowd is a little noisy, and I think we did a little too much standing, offensively. It was one of those nights when, luckily, we were able to put enough points on the board, play some defense and come out of here with a W.”
For the second straight game, Wapak held an opponent without a field goal for an entire period, as was the case for Napoleon in the first period Thursday.
The Wildcats scored for the first time on a free throw with 2:04 left in the first period and did not record their first field goal until 4:18 left before halftime.
Wapak held Elida scoreless in the two teams’ sectional final last Saturday in Spencerville.
Warner paced the Redskins with eight points Thursday.
Buzzard and Stiles added seven points each, and Megan Watt tallied five for Wapak.
Ferguson scored eight points to lead Napoleon.
The Redskins, with their win Thursday, advanced to the final game of the Paulding district tournament, which will be played at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Bath Wildkittens in a matchup of two Western Buckeye League schools and the top two seeds from the Spencerville sectional.
Bath advanced past Wauseon in the other semifinal Thursday in Paulding but not before seeing a 23-point fourth-period lead slip away until Wauseon forced overtime.
Bath emerged with a 82-78 victory after the extra session.
Bath beat Wapak by a score of 56-47 in their meeting earlier this season.
The Wildkittens won the WBL title for the fourth straight year this winter.
“We definitely know a thing or two about them. We’re expecting a good old normal basketball game like we normally play. We’re going to have to do things better, offensive and defensively.
“We both have a few things to talk about (today) with a short turnaround. This time of year you either know what you’re doing or you don’t.”
Allen implied, obviously, neither his team nor Bath could take much away from Thursday’s game between Wapak and Napoleon and attempt to use it to their advantage entering Saturday’s game.
The winner of the Wapakoneta-Bath game Saturday will advance to the Division II, Region 6 tournament and will play the winner of Clyde and Toledo Rogers coming from the Perrysburg district.