WAPAKONETA – First-year Wapakoneta boys head basketball coach Trey Elchert has been preaching to his team about playing defense for the full 32 minutes.
In Tuesday’s nonconference matchup with visiting Bellefontaine, Elchert’s squad definitely clamped down at the defensive end when it counted the most, en route to a 53-32 victory over the Chieftains at Wapakoneta.
After trailing Bellefontaine 15-14 at the end of the first quarter, Wapakoneta took control of the game.
With the win, Wapakoneta is 3-0 on the young season. Bellefontaine is 0-1.
Wapakoneta was balanced at the offensive end with eight players cracking the scoring column.
Noah Ambos led Wapakoneta with 14 points, with 10 of those points coming in the second half. Zach Rogers had nine points, all on 3-pointers. Garrett Siefring added eight points, all coming in the first half.
“Offensively, it’s been very balanced,” Elchert said. “That’s the one thing that stands out. Coming into tonight, we had a number of guys averaging basically between 10 to 15 points – there’s like four or five guys right there. I also think our guys are learning how to compete.
“Defensively, we still have not quite done that for 32 minutes, yet. There’s probably been times we’ve done it for 20- 24 or maybe 26 (minutes). But I think that once we get to that next step and defend for 32 minutes, that will hopefully put us in a better position.”
After Bellefontaine turned the ball over just one time in the first quarter, Wapakoneta sped the Chieftains up and helped caused 17 more turnovers the rest of the way.
Jarrid Baughman led Bellefontaine with eight points.
On the night, Bellefontaine shot just 36 percent from the field. Wapakoneta shot 47 percent from the floor.
The score was knotted three times in the first quarter before Bellefontaine slipped out with the slim one-point lead by the first stop.
Both squads connected three times behind the 3-point line in the first quarter.
Baughman led the Chieftains with six first-quarter points, on two 3-pointers.
Wapakoneta picked up the tempo in the second quarter, and pulled out to a 28-19 advantage by the halftime break.
After shooting 6 of 10 from the floor in the first quarter, Bellefontaine struggled in the second period, connecting on just 2 of 9 shots from the field.
Garrett Siefring led Wapakoneta in the first half with eight points, including two 3-pointers. Baughman led Bellefontaine with eight points.
In the first half, Wapakoneta was 11 of 26 shooting from the field for 42 percent. Bellefontaine was 8 of 19 for 42-percent shooting as well.
Wapakoneta came out strong to open the second half.
The Redskins opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run to pull out to a 37-19 lead.
Ambos hit two inside shots in that run for the Redskins. Teammate John Buchanan hit a 3-pointer to help lead the charge.
Wapakoneta led 40-23 by the end of the third.
Bellefontaine’s shooting woes continued as the Chieftains were just 2 of 9 from the floor in the third period. Wapakoneta, on the other hand, was 5 of 9 from the floor.
Wapakoneta opened the final quarter with a 13-0 run, pulling out to a 53-23 lead midway through the stanza. That last spurt was enough to put the Chieftains away for good.
Wapakoneta held a 27-22 edge on the boards.
For the game, Wapakoneta committed 14 turnovers.
“Overall, we shot the ball very well as a collective group tonight,” Elchert said. “We had a couple threes in the first quarter, a couple threes in the second quarter. So, we shot the ball pretty well, throughout.
“The biggest thing was, defensively, we just had some breakdowns in the first quarter. Then, late in the second quarter and through the third and fourth quarters, we did a much better job, defensively.”