WAPAKONETA — Many times, a game comes down to which team can make the most plays down the stretch.
In Tuesday’s nonleague boys basketball matchup between Wapakoneta and visiting Allen East, Wapakoneta made just a couple extra plays in the fourth quarter, en route to a hard-fought 54-52 victory over Allen East.
Noah Ambos led Wapakoneta (7-2) with 16 points, with 14 coming in the second half. Ambos was 7 of 7 shooting from the free throw line. Ambos also came away with three steals.
Kaden Siefring scored 11 points, including two 3-pointers. Garrett Siefring scored nine points. Zach Rogers had eight points, including two 3-pointers. Braeden Goulet had eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Redskins.
“In the first half, we definitely did not shoot it well,” Wapakoneta head coach Trey Elchert said. “I think we got a couple clean looks from guys who have knocked shots down for us this year. But it was just one of those nights where they weren’t falling; and it was one of those nights where our energy was a little bit low. We just couldn’t quite find that spark. But at the end of the day, we just found a way.”
Gabe Criblez led Allen East (5-2) with 20 points and six rebounds. Tyler Clum had 12 points, including two 3-pointers. Bradden Crumrine added 10 points, including three 3-pointers for the Mustangs.
Allen East jumped on the Redskins early on, pushing out to a 6-1 lead.
Wapakoneta struggled early, missing its first five shots of the contest.
However, Wapakoneta battled back and closed out the first quarter with an 8-0 run to grab a 9-6 lead at the first stop.
Wapakoneta looked to extend its lead in the second quarter.
However, Wapakoneta could not shake off Allen East in the first half, as the Redskins slipped into the halftime break with a slim 19-18 lead.
Criblez, a 6-foot, 3-inch forward, was a force down low for the Mustangs, as he scored 12 first-half points and pulled down four rebounds.
Wapakoneta was just 3 of 13 shooting from the field in the second stanza. For the half, the Redskins were 7 of 24 from the field for just 29-percent shooting. The Mustangs held Ambos to just two points in the first half.
Allen East came out in the second half and claimed the early lead, 21-19, thanks to an inside basket by Criblez and a free throw by Crumrine.
However, two 3-pointers by Kaden Siefring gave the lead right back to Wapakoneta, 25-21.
Wapakoneta led 36-33 by the third stop.
Allen East was 6 of 10 shooting from the floor in the third quarter.
Rogers pushed Wapakoneta’s lead to 6, 39-33, with an early 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. That was Rogers’ third trey on the night.
Then, at the 6:45 mark, Ambos hit a 3-pointer from the left wing that pushed the Wapakoneta advantage to 8, 42-34.
With 3:36 left to play, Criblez was fouled down low. He made one of two shots to knot the game at 42.
The Mustangs kept charging.
With 2:54 left in the game, Garrett Newland (five points, six rebounds) made one of two shots from the free throw line to give the Mustangs a 43-42 lead.
Wapakoneta reclaimed the lead with 1:39 left, on an inside shot by Ambos off a fast break. Ambos then completed the old-fashion 3-point play to give Wapakoneta a 45-43 lead.
Then with 1:15 left to play, Crumrine nailed a 3-pointer to give Allen East the lead right back, 46-45.
Moments later, Ambos hit a runner to give the Redskins a 47-46 lead with 56 seconds left.
Then Ambos got it done at the defensive end.
The 6-foot senior made a steal and took it the distance for a layup, pushing the Wapakoneta lead to 49-46, with 37 seconds left in the game.
“A lot of what we do goes through Noah (Ambos),” Elchert said. “He’s a three-year letter winner. He’s been a tremendous player for us. With a night like tonight, we’re expecting a kid of his caliber to step up and make some plays for us; and he did just that.”
A 3-pointer by Keaton Miller cut the Wapakoneta lead to 1, 53-52.
However, the Redskins managed to stave off the Mustangs down the stretch at the free throw line.
Garrett Siefring went to the free throw line with one second left to play. He hit one of two shots to ice the game for the Redskins.
On the night, Wapakoneta shot 38 percent from the field. Allen East connected on 53 percent of its field goal attempts.
However, Wapakoneta made more trips to the free throw, connecting on 13 of 19 shots from the charity stripe. Allen East was 8 of 13 from the line.
Wapakoneta committed 10 turnovers, while Allen East turned it over 20 times.
Allen East won the boards, 31-22.
“We had guys step up and make shots in the second half,” Elchert said. “We did just enough down the stretch to find a way. We’re not going to take winning for granted. … A win is a win.”
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