LIMA — It didn’t matter if that was how the play was drawn up.
“He made it,” Wapakoneta Redskins coach Matt Bradley said.
Yes, he did.
Alex Greve’s 3-pointer with two seconds left on the clock lifted the Redskins to a 43-40 win over the rival St. Marys Roughriders in a Division II boys basketball sectional semifinal Tuesday night at Lima Senior High School.
Wapak called a timeout at midcourt with the score tied at 40-all and 15 seconds remaining. The Redskins worked the ball in to Jake Buzzard, who flipped it out to a wide-open Greve on the left wing — nothing but net.
“We wanted to get some ball-screen action,” Greve said. “Buzzard came up and set a ball screen. I thought he was open on the roll and I got the ball to him. He got double teamed and had a great pass to me.”
Said Bradley, “I thought Jake Buzzard did a really good job there of being patient. We had 15 seconds and we ran what we wanted to right there. I was really proud of Jake not panicking when he got the ball and drove and kicked it back to Greve.”
The clock showed no time left and players rushed the floor as St. Marys coach Dan Hegemier lobbied for time to be put back on the clock. Officials put 1.5 seconds on the clock giving the Roughriders one last chance to tie the game.
But Buzzard tipped the inbounds pass, knocking it off-course. St. Marys’ Dustin Fisher grabbed the loose ball and heaved it from 10 feet behind the half-court line. His shot fell short as the buzzer sounded, securing the win for Wapak.
After the game, Hegemier sent two of his assistant coaches to the media room to tell gathered reporters he would not be doing any interviews.
The game played out like a classic backyard rivalry. The lead changed hands 10 times and the score was tied seven times.
“I don’t know how enjoyable it was for spectators,” Bradley said. “But it was a good defensive battle.”
Wapak led the entire fourth quarter until D.J. Manning sank a pair of free throws with 19.4 seconds left to tie the game at 40-40.
The Redskins’ biggest lead of the game came in the first quarter when they jumped out to a 7-0 lead. St. Marys battled back to cut it to 9-6 at the end of the first.
After a back-and-forth second quarter, the teams went to the lockerroom tied at 18-18.
The third quarter was more of the same until Buzzard stuck in a shot off an inbounds play at the buzzer to give Wapak a 32-30 lead heading into the fourth.
Travis Bertram scored the Redskins’ first five points of the fourth quarter to give Wapak a 37-32 lead.
Hegemier called a timeout and Austin James connected on his third 3-pointer of the game to cut the gap to two, 37-35 with 5:39 to play.
Wapak’s lead would get no bigger than three the rest of the way.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well. The Redskins were 16-of-46 (34.8 percent) from the floor and 3-of-14 (21.4 percent) on 3-pointers. St. Marys shot 11 of 36 (30.6 percent) overall and 6 of 19 (31.6 percent) from behind the arc.
“Hats off to St. Marys,” Bradley said. “They defended the heck out of us. But on the flip side, our defense is what won it for us too.”
Bertram led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-15 from the floor. Greve finished with nine for Wapak. And senior Kaleb Vondenhuevel added seven.
Greve and Buzzard each pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
The Roughriders were a different team than the one Wapak roughed up 60-40 on February 3. St. Marys had played that game without 6-foot-5 senior J.D. Meyer, who had injured his ankle in practice the night before the game.
Tuesday night, Wapak held Meyer to just six points. But Meyer still made his presence felt, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking seven shots.
“He’s always that presence in the paint,” Bertram said. “You know he’s there.”
Garet Fledderjohann paced St. Marys with 13 points. James added nine, all on 3-pointers.
“We had to be physical with Meyer and I thought we were,” Bradley said. “We had to get out on James and we lost him a couple times. But I thought for the most part we did a good job of getting out on their shooters.”
Wapak advances to the sectional title game against the Elida Bulldogs at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Lima Senior. Elida (18-3) defeated the Shawnee Indians 56-37 in the other semifinal Tuesday.
“I think we should be pretty prepared,” Bertram said. “We’re pretty confident right now.”
Wapak upped its record to 8-13. St. Marys ended its season at 5-16.
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