Playing on the edge: Wapak slides by Bluffton

Despite an offensive and defensive strategy to keep the ball out of Wapakoneta’s “Big 3,” the Redskins boys basketball team pulled out a win over the visiting Bluffton Pirates Tuesday, 37-26.

The Pirates, knowing they were out-sized and not as athletic as the Redskins, held the ball for minutes at a time on the offensive end.

“Well, we’d much rather be on offense with the ball than to be on defense and try and stop their Big 3 in Bertram, Buzzard and Greve,” Bluffton varsity coach Todd Boblit said. “We knew coming in that if we didn’t possess the basketball for lengths of time, we were going to be guarded for lengths of time. And we’d prefer to be on offense.”

Even with the efforts of the Pirates to possess the ball and keep it out of the hands of the Redskins, Wapakoneta’s Jake Buzzard was able to dominate the low post and really give the Redskins the edge.

“He’s realizing what a force he can be,” Wapakoneta varsity coach Matt Bradley said. “I thought he did a tremendous job, I thought he rebounded well tonight. He didn’t really force too many.”

Buzzard shot 50 percent from the field, netting 18 points on nine field goals. 

Although the Redskins won by 11 points Tuesday, the game really came down to the final quarter. At the end the first quarter Bluffton led, 10-6.

“They know what their limits are, and they know how they have to play to compete,” Bradley said. “One of the things we talked about was being patient defensively, and not getting frustrated by them holding it.”

At half-time, the Redskins were holding a narrow lead, 15-14, but Bluffton was still dominating the possessions and trying to frustrate the home team.

Despite Bluffton’s time of possession nearly double that of Wapakoneta’s, the Redskins were able to break through in the second half and put the game away. In the second half, the Redskins outscored the Pirates, 22-12.

“You saw the maturity of the team by not panicking and remaining patient,” Bradley said.

In the fourth quarter, the Redskins were up by two, and a big 3-point shot from Brandon Erb opened it up and began to dictate the rest of the game.

“Definitely a game-changer,” Bradley said. “It goes from a two-point game to a five-point game. We put him in for that purpose because they were sinking in on the post. He can definitely stroke it, and he stepped up and hit a big shot.”

For Bluffton, Michael Donley led in scoring with 18 points. Levi Kistler was the only other Pirate to record a point. He had eight. 

“Very nice player, big shots, had some tough moves going to the paint, pulling up, very nice player,” Bradley said of Donley.

Wapakoneta improves to 5-2 on the season. The Redskins have a break now for the holiday’s, and don’t return to action until Dec. 27, for a matchup against Marion Local. 

Bluffton falls to 2-3 on the season.