Wednesday, December 20th, 2006
By Mark Ruschau
St. Henry thrashes St. John's on the road
  DELPHOS - Most coaches say that the most improvement that a team makes during the season comes from the first game of the season to the second contest.
Tuesday night the St. Henry Redskins took a giant leap forward rebounding from the season-opening loss on Saturday night at Wapakoneta to dismantle the St. John's Blue Jays, 68-39, in the Midwest Athletic Conference opener for both teams at Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium.
St. Henry improves to 1-1 overall while St. John's falls to 1-2 overall.
One of the biggest improvements for St. Henry came on the offensive end hitting on 50 percent of its shots from the floor (27-of-54), including 10-of-16 from three-point range. The Redskins hit on just 33 percent from the field and 8-of-34 from three-point range on Saturday.
Mitch Niekamp led the way for the Skins, who had nine different players dent the scoring column, with 17 points, including 3-of-3 from three-point range. Ryan Wehrkamp chipped in 16 points, including 4-of-5 from three-point range while Zack Thobe added 10 points.
"I really thought that one of the strengths of this team was the ability of big people to shoot the ball," said St. Henry coach Joe Niekamp. "With our ability to shoot the ball from the outside, we were able to spread things and take things inside when we needed to.
"I was really happy with the way we were unselfish and made the extra pass offensively," continued Niekamp. "We played good unselfish basketball. It helps to have veteran players like Zack Thobe in the backcourt to run things and get the ball in the right spots to the right people."
While the offense made major strides from the first game, the more impressive improvements for St. Henry came on the defensive end.
After allowing Wapakoneta to shoot nearly 50 percent on Saturday, the Redskins held St. John's to just 31-percent shooting, on 14-of-45 from the floor, including just 2-of-10 from three-point range while also forcing 20 turnovers. St. Henry limited Blue Jay leading scorer Kazz Bryan to just 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting, including just 1-of-5 from three-point range.
"What we want to do defensively is to wear people down and I thought we did a good job of doing that," said Niekamp. "We picked up the pressure on their guards about 20 feet from the basket and we tried to hurry them and I thought we did that.
"We did a good job of playing team defense on Bryan," continued Niekamp. "We kept an eye on him the entire game and I thought we did a good job of playing help defense. Bryan is a versatile player and he's a tough player to guard and he showed his versatility and made some tough shots."
St. Henry put together a great second half to blow open a close game. Leading just 26-21 at the half, the Redskins outscored the home team 42-18 in the second. In the second half, St. John's hit on just 6-of-19 shots from floor and turned the ball over 12 times.
On the other side of the court in the second half, St. Henry came out and shot the ball extremely well hitting on 16-of-24 from the floor, including five-of-seven from three-point range.
St. Henry returns to action on Dec. 27 opening the home portion of its schedule hosting Kalida while St. John's returns to the court Friday as the Blue Jays host Wapakoneta.
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