Saturday, January 10th, 2009
By Ryan Hines
Big three carry Bulldogs past Roughriders
It appears that the Celina boys basketball team has developed a big three to rely on offensively during their terrific start to the season.
Jake Green, Darin Waterman and Derek Gagle combined to score all but three of Celina's points in a 53-48 victory over rival St. Marys in the annual Battle of Grand Lake on Friday night at the Fieldhouse.
Celina (7-1) has now won seven straight games since its season-opening defeat and is in a tie for first place in the Western Buckeye League standings with a 2-0 mark. St. Marys is still without a win in eight games this year (0-2 WBL).
The Roughriders may be winless, but they didn't play like it in their annual matchup with the archrival Bulldogs. St. Marys even led by as many as seven points in the first quarter.
"They came out and knocked down some threes tonight and I think that they're the best 0-8 team that I've seen," said Celina head coach Chris Bihn. "When they get things squared away, they're going to win some ball games. They are a much better team than their record shows."
Green helped make sure that Celina kept its seven-game winning streak in order with a dominating performance in scoring a game-high 22 points and grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds.
St. Marys head coach Paul Sadler knew that containing the 6-6 Green was going to be a difficult task for the undersized Roughriders.
"I really think that the difference in the game tonight was their ability to get shots around the basket," said Sadler. "They were able to get those close looks with Green and we weren't able to do that. They moved the ball around and were able to get the ball into Green a lot. We tried a couple of different things on him (Green), but he hurt us."
Bihn liked the way his big man was aggressive on both ends of the floor.
"I think that Jake played well for us tonight and he gave them some problems because of his size and his long reach," said Bihn. "There were four or five times tonight where he caught the ball close to the basket and held it high and scored and they just couldn't reach it when he held it up. He scored big for us and grabbed quite a few boards on the other side of the floor too."
While Green controlled the post, Waterman and Gagle provided a solid one-two punch in the backcourt. Waterman, who has developed into a versatile weapon for the Bulldogs, had 17 points and eight rebounds while Gagle contributed 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Roughriders had their fans on their feet throughout the first quarter of play as the visitors hit 5-of-8 from behind the three-point line in the first eight minutes of action for a 15-8 lead.
Celina cut away at the St. Marys lead all the way through the second quarter and eventually took the lead for good at 24-23 with 38 seconds left in the first half on a driving layup by Gagle. Layne Klosterman then added his only two points of the game to help the Bulldogs enter halftime with a 26-24 lead.
The Bulldogs continued to build their lead during the third quarter and Green gave the home team their biggest lead of the contest at 43-32 with 36 seconds to play in the quarter after five straight points by the Celina big man.
Celina carried a comfortable 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, but that bulge began to dwindle the Roughriders' Jake Taylor began to heat up. Taylor had just five points through the first three quarters of play, but scored eight points in a time span of 1:01 late in the game to pull St. Marys to within two points at 48-46 with 3:05 on the clock.
Green made a nice spin move on the baseline for a deuce to push the lead to four points before St. Marys got two points from Scott Kinkley to leave the Roughriders down by two points with 1:44 to play in the game.
A pair of one-for-two trips at the charity stripe by Green and Gagle down the stretch put the Celina lead at 53-48 and two missed three-point shots by the Roughriders' Taylor and Derek Roop allowed the Bulldogs to celebrate the victory.
Despite the loss, St. Marys had one of its better shooting efforts of the season from long range hitting 9-of-25 behind the three-point line. Adam Lininger led the Roughriders with four three-pointers on the way to a team-high 16 points while Taylor added 13 points with the aid of a trio of three-pointers.
"I told the guys after the game that they had to see the bigger picture. This is a loss, but it's a step forward for us," said Sadler. "We may not see a better ball team than Celina the rest of the season, they are an excellent team that's playing well. We were down by as much as 11 but we made a comeback and made a game of it at the end on the road and that is definitely a step forward. I'm proud of our effort."
Celina has a tough task ahead in order to make it eight straight wins as the undefeated St. Henry Redskins visit the Fieldhouse tonight for a Mercer County showdown while St. Marys has to wait until next Friday when Defiance comes to McBroom Gymnasium.
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