Wapakoneta Redskins senior Jake Bruns (3) attempts a 3-pointer Friday in a Western Buckeye League varsity boys basketball game against the Ottawa-Glandorf Titans. (Staff photo/Rob Laney)
Noah Bramlage and Brad Recker combined to score 19 of Ottawa-Glandorf’s final 21 points in Friday’s game, and perhaps more importantly was when the duo accounted for those points as they helped the Titans fend off a hungry Wapakoneta Redskins squad.
O-G escaped the Wapakoneta High School gymnasium with a 56-50 win Friday in a Western Buckeye League varsity boys basketball contest.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Titans grabbed a 32-30 as part of an 8-0 run early in the third period. Although O-G held a nine-point lead, 50-41, with 5:16 left in the game, Wapak responded enough to twice pull within one possession of the lead.
Recker helped O-G stay on top with three 3s in a four-minute stretch spanning the end of the third period and the start of the fourth.
“We just couldn’t throw that knockout punch,” O-G varsity coach Tyson McLaughlin said. “It was good to see our guys keep our composure in the last three minutes of games.
“All we care about is getting the W. We made enough plays to get by.”
After the Redskins’ Adam Henderson made 1 of 2 free throws to pull within three at 53-50, Henderson committed his fifth foul of the game, sending to the foul line Alex Schroeder, who made the first of two, giving O-G a four-point lead, 54-50.
Wapak’s Zach Schmerge missed both free throws after a shooting foul with 8.8 seconds. The Redskins did get possession with 8 seconds left after Schmerge’s second miss deflected out of bounds, but a Jarrett Koch shot missed in the final seconds in an attempt to cut the deficit in half.
“The next step for us is to learn how to win,” Redskins varsity coach Doug Selvey said. “That’s a step we need to take. We’re getting closer every day.”
The difference on the scoreboard, six points, could be traced to a pair of 3-point buzzer-beaters for the Titans at the end of each period in the first half.
Recker banked a triple as time expired in the first period, while Bramlage sunk another with 1 second remaining in the half.
“That’s tough,” Selvey said. “The first one we had a hand in the kids’ face. We had a contest there. Sometimes kids any given day kids can hit shots. The second one I’d like to have thrown some guys at Noah. That’s who the ball is going to there.”
Bramlage’s buzzer-beater sent O-G into the locker room with a one-point lead, 25-24, after a first half in which the lead changed six times. O-G led 15-10 after the first period despite committing eight turnovers.
The Titans increased their on-ball defensive pressure after halftime but Wapak handled it, finishing with zero turnovers in the third period and a 6 of 9 shooting effort.
The Redskins had a 30-27 lead in the third before O-G made an 8-0 run. Wapak managed to the tie the game at 40-40.
“Wapak played really well tonight,” McLaughlin said. “They shot the ball well. We forced them to do some things that we wanted to and had some guys shoot shots we feel comfortable with.”
Selvey felt his team handled defensive pressure as best it had all season Friday, committing just 11 turnovers in the loss.
“We faced some good pressure tonight,” the coach said. “That’s something at the beginning of the season we struggled against. That’s something we’ve really tried to get better at. I’d attest that to us being in the game, not giving into the pressure and turning the ball over a ton.”
The 6-foot-7 Bramlage finished with 14 well-earned points, as he battled physical play in halfcourt sets throughout Friday’s game.
Recker added 13 points on four 3-pointers and one free throw.
“Teams put so much effort on Noah,” McLaughlin said. “We needed other guys to make shots, and tonight Brad made shots. It was good to see.”
When the Redskins played man-to-man defense, Henderson at 6’1” guarded Bramlage, with Corey Crawford and Schmerge taken turns, too.
Selvey described his team’s defensive game plan on Bramlage.
“We wanted to push him off the block as much as we could,” he said. “We wanted to be physical with him. We wanted to make sure we had a backside guy. For the most part, we were able to do it. Credit to the kids. They executed the game plan like we wanted them to.”
Henderson notched 18 points to lead all scorers Friday. Keaton Metz supplied 12 points for Wapak.
O-G moved to 10-5 overall and 4-2 in the WBL after Friday’s win.
Wapak lost its 10th straight game Friday, moving to 1-13 overall and 0-5 in the league.
Selvey said through Friday’s game, Wapak’s opponents had an average record of 10-4 this season, while the team’s remaining opponents sport a 4-10 average.
In a stretch of six games beginning with their WBL opener against Elida, the Redskins went losing by an average of nearly 24 points per game.
The past four games they have been much more competitive, dropping their losing margin to just over 10.
Selvey said familiarity with his new system is causing the team’s recent stretch of improvement.
“They’re picking up what we’re trying to do,” he said of the players. “Coming in here I changed a lot as far as defensive philosophy from what they were doing. They’re picking it up.
“They have so much heart, too. You can’t teach heart. I’d attest that as a big part, too.”
Wapakoneta’s first five WBL games came against the top five teams in the league standings. The Redskins will try to pull themselves out of the league basement after their final four WBL contests.
But first the team will face a non-league foe in the Ada Bulldogs at home Tuesday.
O-G, meanwhile, will host the Napoleon Wildcats in a non-league contest tonight.
The Titans swept Friday’s doubleheader, as the junior varsity game favored the visitors by a score of 51-28.
Cameron Lauck and Nate Schroer posted six points apiece for Wapakoneta.
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