SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Shawnee attempted to deliver the knockout punch on numerous occasions.
But Wapakoneta kept bouncing back.
Then, Shawnee standout George Mangas took it over.
Mangas, last season’s Division II Player of the Year, scored 18 fourth-quarter points to help lead Shawnee to a 70-45 victory over Wapakoneta in a key Western Buckeye League boys basketball matchup at Lappin Gymnasium Friday night.
Mangas led Shawnee (11-0, 3-0) and all scorers with 40 points, including two 3-pointers. Mangas also came away with seven rebounds and two steals. In the fourth quarter, Mangas was 6 of 7 shooting from the field and 6 of 7 from the free throw line.
“I would say that I’m surprised at something that George Mangas does, but he does it all the time,” Shawnee head coach Mark Triplett said. “He’s a gamer; and he knew he needed to dig deep. We had to rally around each other. I’m really proud at how the guys played.”
Also in double figures for Shawnee was Brady Wheeler, who poured in 17 points, including five 3-pointers. The junior guard also dished out seven assists.
Noah Ambos led Wapakoneta (8-3, 1-2 WBL) with 19 points, including three shots behind the 3-point line. Teammate Garrett Siefring added nine points and four assists.
Shawnee has now won 36 consecutive games, dating back to the start of last season.
In the first Associated Press boys basketball state poll of the season, Shawnee was ranked No. 1 in Division II.
Friday night, the lead changed hands two times and was knotted three times in the first quarter, before Shawnee finally slipped out with a 16-11 lead by the first stop.
Mangas jump-started the Indians as he scored nine first-quarter points. The Indians were 7 of 11 shooting from the field in the first eight minutes of action.
Shawnee turned it up a notch in the second quarter.
The Indians extended their lead to 10, 37-27, by the halftime break.
Wheeler connected three times behind the 3-point line in the second. The junior guard scored 11 second-quarter points, after not cracking the scoring column in the first stanza.
Mangas led the Indians in the first half with 16 points and four boards. “Brady (Wheeler) is the lone junior starter, but he got a lot of playing time last year,” Triplett said. “He fits in so well with these guys. They trust him, and they respect him. He’s a leader for us on the floor. When teams leave him open, he has that ability to get it going from the perimeter.”
For the first half, the Indians were a sizzling 15 of 22 from the field for 68-percent shooting.
Ambos led Wapakoneta in the first half with nine points.
Wapakoneta would not go away.
With 4:54 left to play in the third, Wapakoneta cut the deficit to 7, 39-32 on two free throws by Zach Rogers (six points).
Then, Wheeler got hot again.
Wheeler hit two 3-pointers in the third quarter to help pull the Indians out to a 49-34 lead by the third stop.
Wapakoneta cooled down in the third, as it hit just 2 of 12 shots from the field.
In the fourth quarter, Mangas took it over.
Mangas scored all but three of his team’s points in the final eight minutes as Shawnee outscored Wapakoneta 21-11 in the final stanza.
“Toward the end of the game, we had like a 10-point lead,” Triplett said. “We just talked about using our length, our athleticism and our physicality to try to get in the passing lanes and take away some of those skip passes.
“They (the Redskins) were doing a nice job of getting the ball into the corner and getting guys on the back side of that open. So, I thought when we got into those passing lanes, it took away some of those opportunities for them.”
For the game, Shawnee shot 65 percent from the field. Wapakoneta connected on 41 percent of its field goal attempts.
Wapakoneta committed 15 turnovers. Shawnee turned it over 10 times.
Shawnee held the edge on the boards, 26-16.
“We shot the ball well from the perimeter; and obviously, we shot the ball really well from inside,” Triplett said. “And we had a size advantage. But with Tyson (Elwer) out, that size advantage goes down a little bit. That was something we talked about – coming into the game – was to pound them on the inside.”
Elwer, a 6-foot, 5-inch senior post player for Shawnee, left the game late in the first quarter with an injury.
Before the tip-off of Friday’s contest, last year’s Shawnee team that went 25-0, before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was honored.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.