LIMA – It might not have been the start first-year Shawnee coach Mark Triplett was looking for, but he was more than pleased with the final result of his boys basketball game against visiting St. Marys.
The Indians overcame a slow start to bounce back and grab a 62-49 victory over the Roughriders in the Western Buckeye League opener for both schools.
St. Marys (1-3) got a pair of first quarter 3-point baskets by Josh Young that enabled the Roughriders to grab a 13-9 lead after one period of play.
“They (St. Marys) came out ready out to play,” Triplett said. “We got off to a slow start and that’s on me; I have to get that fixed but I’m happy with the way we played as the game went on.”
But suddenly the Indians (2-2) caught fire and, still trailing by a 15-11 margin, Shawnee raced out to an 18-0 spurt that put them up 29-15 and the Roughriders were never able to recover. The Indians took a 31-18 lead to the halftime break.
“We got the ball inside and just couldn’t score,” St. Marys coach Dan Hegemeier said. “We were timid but they were faster, and they beat us down the floor; they (Shawnee) played really well but we have to rotate. They just beat us down the floor.”
The Indians were effective in both 2-3 and 2-1-2 zones that forced the Roughriders into poor shots and numerous turnovers.
St. Marys was never able to get closer than 10 points the rest of the way and the Indians biggest lead of the game came at 47-31 late in the third quarter.
The Indians were led in scoring by JaQuan Tucker with a game-high 17 points while Jaden O’Neal was close behind with 16. Tucker and O’Neal were the starting guards for Shawnee, and their speed and ability to push the pace of the game caused St. Marys fits.
Angelo Fox and Brennan Gaffer both added 9 points for the Indians coming off the bench to give the Indians a huge lift.
“Our philosophy is we need to get to the basket and the free throw line,” Triplett said. “We sat down and defended and were able to get the ball to the hole; we were very active in our zone tonight. Gaffer gave us energy and a spark off the bench.”
St. Marys was led in scoring by Isaac Fitzgerald with 16 points while Young finished with 12 points that came on four 3-pointers.
The Indians fought the Roughriders to a 26-26 rebounding stalemate and forced St. Marys into 16 turnovers while only committing 10 in the contest.
Triplett is a 2006 St. Marys graduate and was asked about getting his first Western Buckeye League win against his alma mater.
“I’m a Roughrider at heart,” Triplett said. “But this was a WBL game and that means something more to me.”