The Shawnee Indians haven't won a game in the Western Buckeye League this season as the Wapakoneta Redskins visited their home floor.
Wapakoneta is looking to secure a fourth place finish in the WBL, while Shawnee is still looking for a WBL win.
There's a reason they play the game.
Shawnee exploded offensively in the first three quarters of the game, and was able to hold on for victory over the Redskins, 54-51.
At halftime, the Indians led 37-22, and just about maintained that 15 point lead until the last couple minutes of the third quarter.
"Shawnee did a great job tonight, they played hard, they expected to win and we're not a team that's good enough to just show up and beat anybody," said Matt Bradley, Wapakoneta varsity coach.
Thad Vernon caught fire for Shawnee in the first half, scoring 19 points in the half and 23 for the game.
"He's a really good player, we knew coming into the game that he was a good player," Bradley said. "We didn't defend with a sense of urgency from the opening tip like we talked about all week and they made us pay for it."
Shawnee's varsity coach Dick Heath said Vernon's play is streaky, and Friday night, he was knocking his shots down.
"He's capable of doing that, he's a streak-type shooter," Heath said. "He was on a positive streak. It's not unexpected when he goes off like that."
The Redskins were struggling from the get-go offensively and defensively, and up until the last couple minutes of this third quarter, it looked like it was going to be a blowout.
"It took us to about the 2-minute mark in the third quarter to start playing hard, so all the credit goes to Shawnee tonight," Bradley said.
Redskins senior Alex Greve hit a jumper at the end of the third quarter to cut the Shawnee lead to 13 points, 44-31. Greve finished the game with 13 points.
The first five minutes of the fourth quarter belonged to the Redskins. They went on an 18-6 run in the fourth quarter to bring the game within one point.
"When you've only won a couple games and you get in a game like this, and you start looking at that scoreboard, and that clock doesn't run fast enough," Heath said. "We took some bad shots, we took some shots that were way too quick, got ourselves in a jam, and they had momentum on their side."
However, Shawnee converted on free throws down the stretch and was able to hold off the Redskin comeback for the victory.
Wapakoneta's Brandon Miller had two key cutbacks to cut the lead to one-point, twice, but the Redskins never could tie it up or take the lead. Miller finished the game with seven points.
"Brandon Miller knows that he's never going to be a leading scorer type of player, he knows that his role is hustle. That's what he does and he does it well," Bradley said.
Down by three points, the Redskins had two 3-point attempts, one from Brandon Erb and the other from Greve as time expired.
"Obviously we gotta hit a 3-pointer to tie," Bradley said. "Brandon Erb got a good look, got the offensive board and Greve gets a good look. Two good looks to go to overtime just didn't fall."
Travis Bertram led the Redskins in scoring Friday night with 22 points.
"I thought Travis attacked the rim really well tonight, but that's what we expect from him," Bradley said.
Jake Buzzard, Wapakoneta's scoring leader, was held to just four points on the night. Heath said that was due to the defensive effort of his team.
"Our interior defense kept rotating over on him and got in the passing lane," Heath said. "They made it tough for him to get the basketball. If you can't get the basketball, you can't shoot it."
Heath said he was proud of his team's defense.
Our theme all week long was our man-to-man defense. We decided here late in the season that we're going to sit down, be basic and play fundamental man-to-man defense," Heath said. "The first half we played as well defensively as we have all year long."
Bradley said the difference, plain and simple, was intensity.
"It took us being down 15 points to start playing hard, Shawnee just completely flat-out out-worked us all game," Bradley said. "If we come out and match Shawnee's intensity from the get-go, maybe it's a different story."
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