WAPAKONETA — There was a great deal at stake Thursday night when Bath traveled to Wapakoneta for a key Western Buckeye League girls’ basketball showdown.
Coming into Thursday’s matchup, both Bath and Wapakoneta had just one WBL loss this season, trailing first-place Ottawa-Glandorf.
Wapakoneta coach Rusty Allen did not want to over-emphasize the game plan, knowing his team just needed to come out and play aggressively, and knock down shots.
The Redskins came out, played aggressively and made shots when they needed to, en route to a 54-43 victory over Bath.
Wapakoneta took the lead midway through the first quarter and led for most of the way.
Bath cut the deficit to three points late in the game, but Wapakoneta put the game away at the free throw line. The Redskins made 11 of 14 shots from the charity stripe in the final eight minutes of action.
Katie Engle led Wapakoneta (9-7, 5-1 WBL) with 14 points, including 10 in the first quarter. Engle had two 3-pointers. Addy Allen and Mackenzie Wilson each scored 10 points for the Redskins. Allen had two 3-pointers. Wilson, a 6-foot post player, also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. Casey Minnig added eight points and five boards, coming off the bench. Minnig was 4 for 6 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter for the Redskins.
Chandler Clark led Bath (7-9, 4-2) and all scorers with 18 points, including two 3-pointers. Madelyn Renner had 13 points and six rebounds for the Wildkittens.
“We came in yesterday and obviously, we knew this was a big week for us,” Allen said. “We kind of control our own destiny a little bit, as far as the league goes. So, we just kind of talked about that yesterday. I don’t want to say we didn’t go over many X’s and O’s, but we just kind of walked through some things.”
After a couple early lead changes, Wapakoneta slipped out with a 17-15 lead by the end of the first quarter. Engle had the hot shooting hand for the Redskins, scoring 10 points with two 3-pointers.
The Redskins opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run, pushing their lead to 24-15. Allen’s 3-pointer ignited Wapakoneta’s quick start. Allen scored eight points in the second quarter, including two shots behind the 3-point line.
The Wildkittens cut the deficit to 29-24 by the halftime break, despite making just 3 of 15 shots from the field in the second stanza. Bath, however, made 5 of 7 from the free throw line in the first half. The Redskins were 0 for 2 from the foul line.
Engle led the Redskins with 12 first-half points on 5 of 7 shooting from the floor. Bath was just 8 of 29 from the floor in the first 16 minutes of action.
Wapakoneta came out strong after the break.
Wilson scored twice down low in the opening moments of the second half to jump-start her team.
The Redskins led 36-29 by the third stop. Bath’s shooting woes continued in the third quarter as the Wildkittens were just 1 of 7 shooting from the floor.
For the game, Wapakoneta shot 46 percent from the field. Bath shot 28 percent from the floor.
However, Bath made it interesting down the stretch.
With 2:22 left to play, Clark hit 2 of 2 from the foul line to cut the deficit to 3, 43-40.
However, Wapakoneta closed it out at the free throw line to notch the home victory.
“I think we just got a little inpatient at times (late in the game),” Allen said. “We would maybe get a rebound on our end with an opportunity for a second chance and maybe not be in the best shooting position, and then try to force some things, rather than just pull it out.”
For the game, Wapakoneta turned the ball over 16 times, while Bath turned it over 11 times.
The Redskins won the battle on the boards, 31-24.
“When you give up as many points as we did in the first half and you don’t defend any better than we defended, that’s going to happen,” longtime Bath coach Greg Mauk said. “We scored enough points to win that basketball game. We scored enough points in the first half to be ahead at halftime, but we weren’t, because we didn’t defend. It’s simple … It boils down to that.
“But give credit to Wapak. When their kids had to hit foul shots to finish the game, they did.”
Allen was pleased at how his team responded down the stretch, when Bath closed the deficit.
“I think that was a tribute to our girls tonight, because we’re a fairly young team. I know we have some seniors out there with Engle and (Audra) Schaub (seven points, two steals). But when you have a freshman, a sophomore and a couple juniors running around out there, sometimes you kind of wonder how they will
react in a situation like this. I thought all of them did an excellent job of just keeping their composure and not getting rattled,” Allen said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.