BASKETBALL: Redskins hope to finish strong

Just looking at the records, the Wapakoneta Redskins appear poised for a strong finish in their final three games of the varsity boys basketball regular season.

The operative word being “appear.”

The games aren’t played — as goes the old cliché goes — on paper.

Wapak will host the Shawnee Indians in a Western Buckeye League matchup on Friday night and the Coldwater Cavaliers on Saturday night.

The Redskins wrap up the regular and league seasons next Friday at the Kenton Wildcats.

Shawnee and Kenton are two of the three teams — St. Marys being the third — behind the Redskins in the WBL standings.  Wapak is 5-12 overall and 2-5 in league play.  The Indians are 4-14 and 1-6.  And the Wildcats are 4-12 and 0-7.

Coldwater, meanwhile, is 7-10 on the season.

“All three of those teams have improved tremendously throughout the year,” Redskins varsity coach Matt Bradley said. “You look at Shawnee, a team that’s really, really young.  Seeing them early in the year to now, they’ve improved by leaps and bounds.  Coldwater has won three out of four.  Kenton is getting healthy.  So regardless of records, we know we’ve got to come ready to play.”

In Shawnee, the Redskins face a team led by a senior center and a freshman point guard.

Seth Rosenbauer (6-5, senior) anchors the inside and leads the Indians in both scoring (15.3 points per game) and rebounding (7.3 per game).  Freshman Elijah Pughsley keys the Shawnee offense.

“Seth Rosenbauer is one of the best players in the league,” Bradley said.  “He’s been hit by injuries the last two or three years.  He’s healthy and, obviously, he’s really, really good.  We’ve got to make it difficult on him because Shawnee does a great job of getting him the ball. ...

“Pughsley has stepped in there the last 10 or 12 games.  He wasn’t even on their original varsity roster at the beginning of the year.  He’s really been a spark plug for them.  He’s scored in double figures quite a bit lately.”

Bradley sees similarities between Shawnee and his 2010-2011 squad.

“When you’re bringing freshmen off the bench and starting a sophomore, you’re going to take your lumps,” he said.  “But as they’ve weathered the season and learned on the fly, they’re starting to play betterr.”

After wrapping up the regular season, the Redskins will battle the rival St. Marys Roughriders in a Division II sectional semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Lima Senior High School.

The game is a rematch of their first meeting on February 3, a game Wapak won 60-40.

But the Roughriders played that game without leading scorer J.D. Meyer (6-6, senior), who sprained his ankle in practice the night before that game.  Meyer is healthy now and should be in the lineup for the rematch.

A year ago, St. Marys knocked off the Redskins in the regular season before Wapak bounced the riders in tourney play..

“I’m sure they think they would love to have a shot at us full-strength,” Bradley said.  “I’m sure they’re really excited about the opportunity.  I think it’s great when two rivals can play in a tournament game.”

Bradley said the Redskins are focused.

“We’re not playing for a league title these last two weeks,” he said.  “We can’t finish .500 or better in the regular season.  So I think the fact that it is tournament time, I think there is a little extra pep in their step this week.”