WAPAKONETA — Going into the final period against St. Marys, Wapakoneta owned a 44-29 lead and appeared poised to pick up an easy win. But even Redskin longtime coach Rusty Allen knows there is not many easy wins in the Western Buckeye League play and his team needed one final stand to hold off a determined Roughrider squad to record a 61-54 win Thursday night.
“This is a good win,” Allen said. It is always important to get that first league win under your belt. St. Marys is a very good ball club and they have some girls that can shoot. They proved they could play inside…For us to come out with a win we are pretty happy and feel pretty fortunate.”
With the win Wapakoneta improves to 2-1 and 1-0 in league play. St. Marys falls to 3-2 and 0-1 in the WBL.
St. Marys head coach Jon Burke was disappointed with the loss but was happy to see his team not quit and fight hard in the fourth quarter.
“They had a lot of heart,” Burke said. “I am proud of the way my girls played in the fourth. We didn’t have an answer for Lexi Jacobs tonight. I give all the credit to those Wapak girls because they played a great game and made some big shots. We definitely gave it are all down the stretch.”
With some solid defense and the scoring of Lexi Jacobs the Redskins began to take control at the end of the first quarter when, down 13-6 with 2:40 left in the period, reeled off 10 straight points with six of those points coming from Katie Engle to give Wapakoneta a 16-13 lead.
Jacobs, who was held scoreless in the first stanza, began to heat up in the second period and pumped in nine points to pace the Redskins, and along with some strong defense, opened up a 28-16 lead with 2:41 left in the half. The Riders, who showed no quit, sliced the lead to 28-23 after scoring the final seven points of the second quarter with Syd Cisco providing five of those points.
The Redskin lead would balloon to as much as 17 points in the third quarter behind the shooting of Jacobs who would have nine points in the third period to give what fans might have thought was a comfortable 44-28 lead.
In the third quarter, St. Marys, which had trouble scoring for the first 24 minutes, finally found their stroke and began to chip away at the Redskin lead and by 1:19 left in the game the Riders had cut the lead to 56-50.
However, the Rider rally ran out of gas and coupled with some decent free throw shooting, the Redskins were able to escape with the win.
Jacobs finished with 21 points on the night and teammate Mackenzie Wilson chipped in 15 points. Jessica Davis, who had five points, finished with a game-high 11 rebounds, was a key factor defensively, along with Wilson’s interior defense that allowed Wapakoneta to open up a big lead after three periods.
Allen said Jacobs, and really the rest of the team, is recovering from injuries so they are still finding their groove as a team.
“Finally Lexi is starting to roll a little bit,” Allen said. “She was struggling with her shot. We are just trying to get healthy. Lex missed a little time with a concussion. Wilson is out there with a bum knee and Sarah Pothast is out so we really haven’t been able to go at each other in practice and I think that has hurt us little but I think Lex finally got some rhythm.”
Wilson did an admirable job on Rider post player Makenna Mele and held her to four points in the first three period. But Mele, who finished with 16 points, scored 12 of those in the fourth to lead the Riders’ last offensive surge.
Cisco, who Allen admitted was the one player he did not want to see beat his squad, finished with 11 points and scored no points in the second half.
“We were so concentrated on Syd Cisco not getting a clean look we kind of neglected the inside,” Allen said. “
The Riders struggled all game scoring and had only six field goals in the first three periods. In the third quarter, St. Marys would manage one field goal.
Jose Nogueras can be reached at 567-242-0468.