MINSTER — Double overtime. A 13-point comeback. A buzzer beater.
When Wapakoneta’s boys basketball team travelled to Minster Saturday night, spectators from both teams were in for a treat, but like in every thriller, one team has to go home disappointed.
The Wapakoneta Redskins were up by three in the first overtime period with six seconds left when Minster’s Adam Niemeyer ran took the ball to well behind the 3-point line and launched up a high-arcing shot.
In the double overtime period, Minster used the momentum from the heroic moment and went on to cruise to victory, 73-67.
“I told (Adam) that it didn’t have a very good chance when it first left his hands, but we’ll certainly take it, because it hit nothing but the bottom of the net,” said Mike Lee, Minster varsity basketball coach.
This game wasn’t always destined to be a thriller. Late in the second quarter, Wapakoneta found itself trailing 17-7 and Wapakoneta’s varsity coach Matt Bradley had seen enough. He went 10-deep into his bench and pulled everyone off the floor.
The first five sat the rest of the first half, and the Redskins went into the locker room trailing 23-11 at halftime.
“The message to them was we have to play harder,” Bradley said. “That group that came in to close out the first half played hard.”
Lee attributed the large first half advantage to solid defense. But he knew this game was far from over.
“I thought our kids played a very good effort defensively,” Lee said. “I knew they weren’t going away, we knew we were going to see a much better basketball team in the second half, and we just didn’t respond. We had too many breakdowns.”
Wapakoneta’s Jake Buzzard came out in the second half on fire, and brought the Redskins back into contention.
“We challenged him at halftime,” Bradley said. “He is a senior. He needed to step up, and he did. I was proud of his effort in the second half.”
Buzzard finished the game with 22 points, 14 of those coming in the third quarter.
“He single-handedly got them from inside, got them from outside, we didn’t do a very good job of hedging on the screening action on him, he got a lot of confidence, and that’s what happens,” Lee said of Buzzard’s play in the second half.
Wapakoneta slowly worked its way back into contention. Trailing by five and with about a minute and a half left, Wapakoneta’s Kyle Gibson was fouled and went to the line.
Gibson makes the first and misses the second, collected his own rebound and put it back in.
“It was huge, that’s the type of kid he is, he works hard. I think he took it personally when we challenged his effort at halftime,” Bradley said.
Wapakoneta was trailing, 45-43, with about 30 seconds left when Buzzard hits a shot to tie it at 45.
Minster elected to hold for the last shot, but the last second shot was blocked by Buzzard. That brought the game to the first overtime.
“We had a special called, and they did a very good job of rotating kids to the side of the ball that Niemeyer had the ball. He got hung up and ultimately it turned into bad situation, we executed at the beginning,” Lee said. “Got to give credit to (Wapakoneta) for coming up big defensively.”
In the first overtime, Alex Greve and Travis Bertram and Jake Buzzard all make shots to give the Redskins a lead. Free throws were made and Wapakoneta found itself up by six, 55-49.
Minster’s Jacob Stechschulte answered with a 3-pointer to bring the Wildcats within three points.
Wapakoneta’s Kodi Morgan then knocked down two free throws and Niemeyer answers with a quick layup.
On the inbound pass, Wapakoneta threw it deep down the court in the vicinity of Buzzard, who looked like he had it for a second, then threw it to an unsuspecting Gibson, and Minster’s Ethan Wolf grabbed it and called timeout.
“We knew there the home run was going to be an opportunity, he did a good job of coming up with a big steal, we knew if we didn’t get that we were pretty much sunk,” Lee said.
On the ensuing inbound, Niemeyer was fouled and sent to the line.
He makes the first and misses the second on purpose.
“We didn’t have any timeouts left, so that was the ultimate decision. It’s awfully hard to go the length of the floor without having anything set up ahead of time, so that was a chance out of the blue,” Lee said.
On the next Redskin possession, Bertram was fouled immediately and went to the line. He made the first free throw to put the ‘Skins up by three, but missed the second.
Bradley, despite fouling the possession before, elected not to foul off the Bertram miss.
“Usually our rule has been under six seconds, that’s the time not to foul,” Bradley said. “Obviously that was enough time. As a coach, that one is on me. Obviously we should have fouled. I’ll learn from it. Now we’ll go from 11 seconds to four seconds where we foul. It was a contested shot, it was a runner, it was about 25-footer. What are you going to do when he hits it?”
And Niemeyer did hit his 3-pointer to send it to double overtime, 58-58.
In double overtime, Minster scored first, and scored often, amassing to a seven-point lead. Despite a 3-pointer from Greve at the end, Minster made their free throws down the stretch and walked away the victors, 73-67..
Bradley said this could have been a much different outcome had the Redskins come out in the first half ready to play.
“We didn’t play very hard, that’s pretty much the bottom line. Didn’t come out to play, didn’t play very hard. They played a lot harder than we did,” Bradley said.
Niemeyer finished the game with 16 points, but everyone will remember the three he hit as the backboard lit up red.
Minster’s Devon Poeppelman finished with 20 points for the Wildcats.
For Wapakoneta, Greve finished with 15 points, Bertram with 14 and Buzzard with a game-high 22.
“We’re up six in the first overtime, we gotta find a way to close it,” Bradley said.
Wapakoneta falls to 8-7 on the season and now prepares for a road game at Sidney Tuesday night.
Minster improves to 10-5 on the season and prepares for Fort Recovery on Friday.
In JV action, Minster beat Wapakoneta 39-34.