WAPAKONETA — Van Wert guard Jacoby Kelly tried to dig the Cougars out of a big fourth-quarter hole.
And Kelly did what he could, hitting driving layup after driving layup.
But Wapakoneta’s balance was too much down the stretch.
Wapakoneta hit 9 of 10 at the foul line in the final minute to hold off Van Wert 56-49 in a boys basketball game Friday at Wapakoneta.
Kelly ended up with 29 points for the Cougars, including 15 in the fourth quarter.
Wapakoneta is 3-1, 1-0 in the Western Buckeye League. Van Wert is 2-1, 0-1 in the WBL.
“Tonight the better team won and it was them,” Van Wert coach Mark Bagley said.
Aaron Good led the Redskins with 15 points, nine in the fourth quarter. Nick Schoonover scored 12, while Gage Schenk had 11.
Wapak’s Adam Scott had eight points and seven rebounds. Reed Merricle scored eight.
The Cougars’ main problem was Wapak went on a 9-2 run to start the fourth quarter.
That put the Redskins up 44-34 with 4:08 to go.
On that 9-2 run, Good scored all nine points, including a 3-pointer.
“When he makes a shot or two, he can get on a roll. He can get hot,” Wapakoneta coach Doug Davis said.
Added Bagley, “I want to give Wapak credit. They exploited our weaknesses. Good took over there for a stretch. Now, we’re down 10 and we’re scrambling.
“Every play counts in our league. There’s no margin of error and our margin of error was huge and a lot of that was Wapak. They kept moving the ball and exploiting some of the matchup problems we have.’’
Down 10, here came Kelly.
He took the ball at midcourt and zig-zagged his way to the basket.
Kelly scored on a layup and a free throw.
Then it was a Kelly 3-pointer.
Then two foul shots by Kelly.
Just like that, Van Wert got within 44-42 with 2:45 left.
“He’s hard to stop,” Davis said of Kelly. “He’s so quick.’’
Van Wert got as close as 45-44 with 1:30 to go.
That’s when Merricle hit a 3-pointer to push the Wapak lead to 48-44 with 1:26 left.
From there, Wapak hit 9 of 10 at the foul line in the final 47 seconds.
Wapak also forced Kelly to miss an off-balance driving, spinning shot with a 50-46 lead with 35 seconds to go.
“On his (Kelly’s) last penetration, Adam Scott stepped in and would have taken a charge if Kelly kept going,” Davis said. “He had to pull up and shoot before he really wanted to and that was a big stop.’’
Wapak won the boards, 27-25.
Kelly scored seven points in the first quarter, including one 3-pointer and two driving layups.
That helped Van Wert out to an 11-5 first-quarter lead.
Wapak came back in the second quarter behind Schoonover, who scored 10 points in the second quarter, with two 3-pointers.
Schoonover’s 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer gave Wapak a 23-22 halftime lead.
Davis was pleased with his man defense, in that Van Wert’s second-leading scorer Nate Place had 10 points. No other Cougar had more than six.
“Defensively, we wanted to stop them on the block,” Davis said. “That was a big WBL win.’’
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.