ST. MARYS — Each time St. Marys was on the verge to take the lead, Shawnee had an answer.
Many times, the answer came from senior standout George Mangas.
Mangas, last year’s Division II Player of the Year, poured in a game-high 28 points to help lead Shawnee to a hard fought 53-45 victory over St. Marys in a key Western Buckeye League boys basketball matchup Friday night at St. Marys.
Mangas also had five rebounds, four steals and a block.
Brady Wheeler had 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Jarin Bertke did not score, but he had seven rebounds, five steals and five assists for the Indians.
With the win, Shawnee improves to 13-0 overall and 4-0 in the WBL. St. Marys slips to 7-3 overall and 1-2 in league play.
Shawnee has now won 38 consecutive games, dating back to the beginning of last season.
Shawnee was ranked No. 1 in the first two Associated Press state polls for Division II.
Austin Parks, a 6-foot, 9 ½-inch sophomore center, led St. Marys with 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Jace Turner had 12 points and seven boards. LeTrey Williams scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Williams also was busy at the defensive end, as he made five steals on the night.
“We knew it was going to be an absolute war for us,” Shawnee head coach Mark Triplett said. “Anytime you have to find a way to play without Tyson Elwer – and go up against a 6-10 kid (Austin Parks) – you’re going to need a collective effort from the guys.
“We had guys with six rebounds, seven rebounds. … I was really proud at how hard we played at the defensive end.”
Shawnee was without the services of Tyson Elwer, a 6-foot, 5-inch post player, who is out with an injury.
St. Marys claimed the early 2-0 lead.
However, Shawnee responded and pulled out to a 17-9 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Shawnee was 7 of 14 shooting from the field in the first eight minutes. Wheeler and Caden Vermillion (six points, five boards), each had a 3-pointer.
St. Marys battled back in the second quarter. The Roughriders were able to help force six Shawnee turnovers.
However, the Indians came roaring back and pushed their lead to 31-21 by the halftime break.
Mangas scored 11 first-half points on 5 of 11 shooting from the floor. However, the Roughriders made Mangas work hard for his points.
Wheeler poured in 10 points, including two 3-pointers in the first 16 minutes of action.
Shawnee was 12 of 24 from the floor in the first half for 50-percent shooting. St. Marys connected on 9 of 26 for 35-percent shooting.
The Roughriders came out of the locker room and made a run.
With 2:25 left to play in the third quarter, Gavin Reineke (three points) hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 6, 40-34.
Shawnee led 42-37 at the end of the third stanza.
Williams connected twice behind the 3-point line in the third to help keep the Roughriders in the hunt.
In the final eight minutes, Mangas hit 4 of 5 free throws and Wheeler hit his third trey of the game to help the Indians slip out with the victory.
“I thought we got some good looks, but shots didn’t fall,” Triplett said. “Like I told them, ‘Offense is inconsistent. So, let’s pride ourselves at the defensive end of the court’.
“I thought that every time they made their run and got close, we found a way to get a stop, go down there, execute and get some buckets.”
For the game, Shawnee shot 50 percent from the field. St. Marys countered with 37-percent shooting from the floor.
St. Marys held a very slight edge on the boards, 26-25.
St. Marys committed 18 turnovers, while Shawnee turned it over 13 times.
Triplett was relieved to get out with a win.
“It doesn’t matter if you get style points. You just take the win, put your head up and walk out of there,” he said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.