Dialing long-distance, shooting from downtown, raining 3s.
The Wapakoneta Redskins used the trifecta to create some early distance from the Shawnee Indians, but they could not shake their Western Buckeye League neighbor because they, too, were hitting bombs.
Both teams combined for 19 3-pointers in the contest with Wapak hitting 10, led by junior guard Sara Warner with four but nearly the whole team got involved. Shawnee snapped the twine nine times with two girls each hitting three.
In the end, Shawnee could not close a first-half gap and Wapak went on to win the WBL match-up, 69-58, and finish the season 7-2 in the WBL and 11-11 overall. Shawnee finished the season 5-4 in the WBL and 9-13 overall.
“I thought that was one of the best games we played all year and I thought we really distributed the ball well to each other,” Wapak varsity coach Rusty Allen said. “We had girls stepping up and making some shots. We did some things a little bit different offensively, not much just some minor tweaks for this tournament stretch, and I thought the girls executed those adjustments pretty well.
“I think we got some good minutes from (Carly) Buzzard again tonight and (Megan) Watt, two sophomores that we knew at the beginning of the season would be valuable players for us — we just didn’t know what their roles were going to be and they stepped up tonight and gave us great minutes,” the fifth-year varsity coach said.
Buzzard provided an inside presence for the Redskins scoring 7 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the first half, most of it in the second period. She ended the game with 9 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Watt hit 5 points in the pivotal second period and ended the night with 9 points. She hit two 3-pointers in the contest.
After the Redskins took a 14-10 lead in the first period, Watt and Buzzard scored the first points for Wapak in the second period as the Indians scratched their way back into a game.
Holding a 20-18 edge at the 5:25 mark, Warner took over, hitting two of her three 3-pointers in the period sandwiched around buckets in the paint from Buzzard to grab a 33-23 lead before senior guard Amy Hume hit a trey and Watt slashed to the basket to grab a rebound and put it back in for the 38-25 half-time lead.
“I have never seen a team all season long shoot like they did tonight,” Shawnee varsity coach Jeff Heistan said. “They shot incredibly well and our kids showed a lot of heart just staying in the game when a team shoots that well.”
For the game, the Redskins shot 23-of-48, or 48 percent, and 10-of-17, or 59 percent, from beyond the arc. They were 13-of-18 from the free throw line.
In the second period, they were 8-of-15 from the field and 5-of-8 from 3-point land.
Heistan said Warner proved to be the thorn in their side, hitting those long-range shots in the second period as his team tried to defensively will their way back into the game.
Warner, who led all scorers with 24 points, was 9-of-15 from the field and 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
“Looking at the book, I didn’t even realize she had 24 points,” Allen said. “I knew she was shooting well and a couple of those 3s that she hit were hand-in-your-face 3s. She was feeling it tonight. When she took those shots, she knew she was in the groove.
“Not only did she spot up, she was driving and getting the ball to the rim at times,” he said. “She does some things that don’t show up in the box scores — defensively having to guard (Britt) Lauck for most of the night. I know she scored 22 points but a lot of that was down the stretch when she was really attacking the basket.”
Senior guard Nicole Brown scored 10 points with Buzzard and Watt each scoring 9. Hume ended the game with 8 points, senior guard Annie Henderson hit for 5, freshman guard Maddi Stiles for 3. Senior post Annie Harrod hit a late free throw for her only point.
Lauck, the lone senior for Shawnee, led the Indians with 22 points with sophomore guard Abby Waddle hitting for 19. Sophomore guard Rachel Evans scored 6.
While Allen liked what he saw from the entire team, he said Buzzard is playing hard to get nearer to her potential.
“We have talked with her all season and we know her abilities, we know her capabilities and it is just her getting comfortable with realizing she is capable of doing all these things,” Allen said. “I really thought this was one of her most aggressive games she has played all season. She has that in her and I am sure she plays basketball with her brother and has learned to play physical under the basket.”
He also credited her for having the instinct to get to rebounds which helped in her scoring in the paint.
Allen also was proud of his team reaching their goal of finishing the WBL season 7-2, which has several tough teams and provides a window in how competitive their non-league schedule is.
“We talked about our record and we talked about the fact we want to finish strong and we want to finish strong in the league,” Allen said. “I feel our league is one of the best in the area and we know our non-league schedule is very tough. We are excited about 7-2 and our sectional is a WBL sectional so we are excited about winning that many games.”
The Wapakoneta Redskins are scheduled to play the St. Marys Roughriders at 8 p.m. Monday at Spencerville High School in the opening round of the state tournament.
The JV squad captured a 33-11 win to finish their season 18-2.
After leading 8-2, they nearly shut out the Indians in the second and third periods as they built a 20-3 half-time lead and a 25-4 margin at the end of the third period.
Freshman guard Faith Hensley led the team with 16 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Morgan Miller and freshman post Emily Klopfenstein scored 4 points each, while junior post Hilary Bourne and freshman guard Kasey Helmstetter hit buckets in the win.
Freshman guard Cori Hager grabbed four rebounds with Helmstetter and Bourne each collecting three. Klopfenstein and freshman post Taylor Goulet grabbed two boards, while sophomore guard Sarah Horman and Miller had one carom each.