BASKETBALL: 'Skins sink Pirates

BLUFFTON — Travis Bertram carved up the Bluffton Pirates defense like a Christmas ham Tuesday night, scoring 26 points to lead the Wapakoneta Redskins to a 52-35 win in a varsity boys basketball contest at Bluffton High School.

The junior forward scored 21 of the Redskins’ first 38 points — including 11 of their 14 first-quarter points — as Wapak pulled away and was never seriously challenged by the 0-5 Pirates.

Bertram was coming off a 28-point performance in Saturday’s 59-57 loss to the St. Henry Redskins.

“He’s having a great year,” Wapak varsity coach Matt Bradley said. “He’s very confident, which I think you have to be if you want to be a successful player. But right now I think he feels like every time he shoots it’s going in, which is the mentality you’ve got to have.

“And I hope people start to take notice of him because he’s a fun player to watch. He’s put in a lot of time. This just didn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of a lot of work. I’m really proud of him”

With the Redskins sitting on a 30-21 halftime lead, Bertram scored Wapak’s first eight points of the third quarter to quickly stretch the gap to 38-25.

“We wanted to try to control Bertram,” Bluffton varsity coach Todd Boblitt said. “And we didn’t. We wanted to try to make it tough for Buzzard to get open looks. And we didn’t do that. And lastly, we wanted to try to control the glass. And we were not successful in any of those three ventures. ...

“Give them a lot of credit. Bertram made a lot of plays and Buzzard did make his shots when he got open. But we really got abused on the glass.”

A pair of Michael Donley 3-pointers late in the third quarter cut the Wapak lead to 41-31 late in the third quarter.

But the Redskins answered with an 11-2 run, keyed by a Buzzard 3-pointer, into the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for Wapak and lifted the Redskins to 2-4 on the season.

“To the outsider, you may look at our record as being the same as what it’s been the last couple years,” Bradley said. “But I really, truly believe we’re a different team. And I think our guys believe that.”

Alex Greve scored six points, all from the free throw line. Jake Buzzard hit two 3-pointers for six points. Kaleb Vondenhuevel added five.

Wapak stretched out the floor defensively, throw a mix of defenses at the Pirates. Even in the 2-3 zone the Redskins defended out to half court and forced numerous Bluffton turnovers.

“We’ve said all along that if we hold a team to under 50 points we’ve got a chance to win,” Bradley said. “We held them to 35, 14 in the second half. I’m really proud of our effort. I thought we rebounded the ball incredibly well, which we should have given our size.”

Wapak is off until next Thursday when it travels to Lima Central Catholic to take on the Thunderbirds.

The Redskins next Western Buckeye League contest is Friday, Jan. 6 at home against the Bath Wildcats.

In the junior varsity contest, Wapak took over midway through the third quarter and turned a 19-19 tie into a 50-26 win.

Freshman Adam Henderson continued his strong play with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Henderson scored 12 of his points in the second-half run.

Brandon Erb added eight points, all in the second half, with two 3-pointers. Kodi Morgan chipped in with seven.

Kaleb Miller scored six points. Zach Schmerge (five points), John Huffman (three) and Tyler Hone (two) rounded out the Redskins scoring.