LIMA — While the area was bracing itself for a winter blast, Wapakoneta’s girls basketball team was weathering a storm inside the Shawnee gymnasium.
The Redskins were able to do so, beating host Shawnee 65-60 in a Western Buckeye League opener Thursday.
Wapakoneta moves to 2-1 overall while Shawnee is 0-3.
Following a third quarter in which the Redskins outscored the Indians 23-16 to grab a 51-34 lead, Shawnee’s defense began to harass Wapakoneta and its offense started scoring. The upshot was a 19-7 run that cut Wapakoneta’s lead to 58-53 lead with 3:06 remaining.
However, Wapakoneta’s offense began to break Shawnee’s press enough to get the ball down the court — the Redskins made 5-of-10 free throws late to go with a bucket by Megan Watt — and the Indians’ offense couldn’t get enough possessions as time ran out. Shawnee made 3-of-5 field goals in the final three minutes and turned the ball over once, which allowed Wapakoneta to keep its edge.
“I thought we showed moments of being a pretty good basketball team and then moments of playing scared,” Wapakoneta coach Rusty Allen said. “I think sometimes I have to calm myself down and understand I only have a sophomore point guard (Maddie Stiles), a sophomore in the post (Riley Culver) and a freshman guard (Megan Fisher) on the floor at times. We’re going to have some times when maybe we don’t have the greatest decision-making.
“What frustrated me the most was the ill-advised passes that we made. Once we slowed the game down in our minds and didn’t let Shawnee force us to speed it up, we got some good looks.”
Wapakoneta turned the ball over five times in the fourth quarter and 24 times overall in the game. Shawnee had 22 total turnovers. What helped Wapakoneta big-time was its many trips to the charity stripe, where it made 26-of-46 free throws.
“We fouled way too much, and we have to start off better,” Shawnee first-year coach Paul Moss said. “We couldn’t get into any offensive flow and that was our doom early.
“But the girls showed some resilience and defensively we picked it up and turned them over and started hitting some shots. Our defense turned into offense.”
Wapakoneta only trailed once the entire game, early when it was down 2-0. After that, junior post Carly Buzzard went to work to score seven of her 19 points to put the Redskins up 16-2. Shawnee didn’t get its first field goal until Ali Quillen hit a bucket with four seconds left in the first quarter.
Shawnee then began to cut into the lead and trailed 28-18 at half, but Wapakoneta sprinted away again in the third with a 17-4 run that put the Redskins up 45-25 late in the quarter. During that span, Wapakoneta had five different scorers step up. Senior guard Sara Warner netted four of her game-high 21 points in the run while Buzzard added four points in the paint.
“Carly had a really nice game on the offensive end,” Allen said. “And for the most part on the defense, we ask her to take on the other team’s top post player, and she did a nice job of that tonight. We thought she could come in and score inside, that was definitely a plan. If we can get her most touches inside the post, she can probably do even better.”
Shawnee had three players reach double-digits. Maryssa Herschler had 11 points, Claire Dahlke had 11 points and Quillen finished with 10 points.
“I’m really proud of the girls, they did yeomen’s effort to get back in the game,” Moss said. “They’re adjusting to the transition (of a new coach). They’re hard-working girls and I thought we got a little better tonight.”