Saturday, December 15th, 2007
Late surge carries Celina to road victory
By Ryan Hines
Celina's Derek Gagle, left, pressures St. Marys' Jameel Brenneman, with ball, du. . .
ST. MARYS - The shooting woes for St. Marys continued and Celina took full advantage during the boys basketball version of the Battle of Grand Lake on Friday night at McBroom Gymnasium.
Playing in its first road game of the season, Celina won its first Western Buckeye League contest of the 2007 campaign with a 59-47 victory over the winless Roughriders.
The Bulldogs are now 2-3 on the season and 1-1 in the WBL while St. Marys slips to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in league play.
"We're still a pretty young team and I was curious to see what I was going to get out of these guys playing in a tough environment like we did tonight, but they did a nice job of handling all the things that come along with playing on the road," said Celina head coach Chris Bihn. "Road games in the WBL are always tough, especially playing here with the atmosphere that you know comes along with it. We'll take all the road wins we can get."
With the lack of an inside presence, St. Marys tried to do its offensive damage on the perimeter and the shots weren't falling for the Roughriders as the home team shot just 29 percent from the floor overall, including a dismal seven percent (2-of-28) from beyond the three-point line. St. Marys missed its first 16 three-pointers in the game and didn't hit from beyond the three-point arc until Jameel Brenneman connected early in the third quarter.
"Something that we're going to have to figure out is our shooting struggles," said St. Marys head coach Paul Sadler. "In practice we shoot the ball fairly well, but we just need to find the confidence to carry that into a game situation. We are a solid shooting team and at some point it's going to show."
Despite the poor shooting by St. Marys, it was a three-point game at the midway point of the fourth quarter when Celina went to Michael Sommer to put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs.
Celina led 49-46 with 4:00 left on the clock, but Sommer took over in the post against the undersized Roughriders. Sommer, who was just 1-for-6 in the first half after a 35-point effort against Greenville last Saturday, scored back-to-back buckets in the paint to give Celina a 53-46 advantage forcing the Roughriders to call timeout.
"We went with a smaller lineup at the time with Michael in the middle and we weren't really looking to score, but Michael began to take over at that point and did some nice things in the paint and used his athleticism," said Bihn.
Derek Coon and Derek Gagle hit two free throws apiece following the St. Marys timeout and another deuce by Sommer put Celina in control 59-46 with just 27 seconds to go in the game.
"We kept Sommer in check up to that point, but he's an incredible athlete and he used his athleticism to finish in a variety of ways," said Sadler. "Obviously, he really hurt us in the fourth quarter."
Bihn was happy to see his team make the necessary plays in a tight game to turn a close game into a 12-point Bulldogs victory.
"We didn't get rattled late in the game when the game was tight and that was big for us," said Bihn. "We've struggled at times late in games and I thought we handled it much better tonight."
Sommer, who had just two points and one rebound in the first half, finished with 15 points and seven rebounds with a strong second half. Sommer had 11 points in the fourth quarter alone.
"I just let the game come to me and took what the defense was giving me," said Sommer. "I didn't want to force anything and my teammates did a great job of finding me with some mismatches in the post. I finally got it together late in the game."
Gagle, playing in his first game of the season following a four-game suspension, led all scorers in the contest with 19 points and added seven rebounds.
Cory Menker led St. Marys with 15 points, with the help of a 9-of-12 night at the free-throw line while Tyler Menker added 12 points off the bench for the Roughriders.
Celina returns to the court on Friday with a road contest against Midwest Athletic Conference foe Marion Local while St. Marys hosts Coldwater for a nonconference contest on Tuesday evening.