The game wasn’t pretty, but it was win — and Wapakoneta Redskins varsity girls basketball coach Rusty Allen says he will take the win any way it is wrapped.
The Wapakoneta Redskins played well in the first half, but held only a 29-20 lead over the Allen East Mustangs. Then their level of intensity failed to match the Mustangs, who increased theirs, in the second half, but the Redskins played just well enough to never lose the lead as they pulled out a 49-45 victory at home.
“To me it looked like we played two different games,” Allen said. “The first half we played pretty well. Defensively we did some nice things, we were really focused and we didn’t let them have too many points in the paint, and offensively we had some clean looks, we were moving and executing.
“The second half the wheels just fell off. I think in the third quarter we had 12 possessions and eight turnovers,” the Redskins coach said. “You can’t come out, take an 11 point lead and have a chance to put the game away and then just throw the ball away four of the first five possessions. I think we let the opportunity slip away when we could have put the game in a place where we could control it down the stretch.”
After junior guard Sara Warner put the Redskins up 31-20 at the 7:17 mark of the third period, the Mustangs battled back and scored the next nine points over the next 6 minutes, making it a two point game at the 1:19 mark when Allen East senior guard Jadin Salyers hit a long 3-pointer.
Wapakoneta senior guard Amy Hume answered and hit a bucket in the last minute before Salyers and Warner missed 3-point shots at either end to close out the period.
The third period comeback did not surprise Allen East varsity coach Jarrod Wehri, who has worked with this group for several years.
“This is a resilient bunch who expects a lot of themselves,” Wehri said. “It is always nice when they hold themselves in that high regard. But if we are going to do anything over the course of this season, it is going to have to start on defense.
“At the half, I told them we have to pick up the intensity and they listened really well,” the coach said. “I have had this group since they were really young and they are starting to see what I’ve been preaching and it is nice to see when we are all on the same page.”
In the fourth period, the Mustangs scored the first four points with sophomore forward Carly Clum hitting the bucket to knot the score at 33, but Warner answered with a 3-pointer and the Mustangs would get it down to only one point one more time at 37-36.
The Redskins would make key free throws down the stretch, hitting 9-of-12 from the line to win the game and provide the final margin.
Allen said the problem in the first part of the second half was his team was trying to force passes into small openings, trying to force the offense.
“We just weren’t as patient in the second half — it was one pass, maybe two, rather than getting ball reversals and getting some post touches because I felt if we could get the ball into (freshman post) Riley (Culver), I don’t know if they could have controlled her too much,” Allen said. “We didn’t do a real good job in the second half. We didn’t do it as good as we are capable in the first half, but we did it enough to keep the outside shot open.”
Wapakoneta senior guard Nicole Brown proved to be the Mustangs’ bane in the first half. She hit three 3-pointers in the opening period and made a fourth 3-pointer in the second period.
Wehri responded defensively by having his defenders extend their defense to get closer to Brown to take away the outside shot.
Brown, who scored 4 points the rest of the way, ended the game leading all scorers with 16 points.
Warner, who ended the game with 13 points, scored 7 in the second half. Senior guard Annie Henderson, who hit a timely 3-pointer in the fourth period, ended the game with 9 points. Hume hit three free throws in the final minutes to end the game with 6 points and Culver ended with 5 points, four coming in the second period on shots from in the paint.
Junior guard Kaycee Rowe led the Mustangs with 14 points, with Clum hitting for 11 points and Salyers scoring 8 points.
The Redskins hit 16-of-42 shots, or 38 percent, for the game, while the Mustangs 18-of-44 shots, or 41 percent for the game, according to unofficial statistics. Wapakoneta hit 6-of-15, or 40 percent from 3-point land, while Allen East hit 4-of-18, or 22 percent from beyond the arc.
Wapakoneta won the rebounding battle 28-24, with Warner and Culver each pulling down nine boards. Rowe led Allen East with eight boards.
The Mustangs bench outscored Wapakoneta 14-0.
Looking at the entire game, Allen said he would have liked his team to recognize the heightened intensity in the second half and then learn to match it or exceed it.
“Obviously they made some changes and they upped their intensity and things started going well and they started playing with a little more confidence, with a little more intensity. On the opposite end, if things are not going as well then you tend to relax a bit instead of kicking it up a gear,” Allen said. “I have to give them credit because they stayed and fought this whole game and really made it a tough ‘W’ for us.”
Both teams are now 3-3 on the season.
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