Saturday, January 15th, 2011
By Gary R. Rasberry
Bulldogs hold off determined Roughriders
CELINA - The boys basketball edition of The Battle of Grand Lake at the Fieldhouse on Friday was about as hard-hitting as the football edition.
In the end, Celina hit timely free throws down the stretch and held off a tenacious group from St. Marys 58-50 to go to 2-1 in Western Buckeye League play and 9-2 on the season.
The Roughriders, who opened the game with a strong start, goes to 4-5 on the season and 0-3 in the WBL, losing their WBL games by a margin of just over seven points per game.
"People are going to say 'St. Marys basketball has been down.', but I'll tell you what, it's a rivalry," said Celina coach Chris Bihn. "It doesn't matter. You can come out and throw records out. Anytime you can win, it's a good thing."
It was St. Marys that got out to the hot start, as D.J. Manning hit a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter that had the Roughriders up 18-9 at one point.
The tide turned, however, at the start of the second quarter as St. Marys' shooting touch went cold and Celina's defense pressured the Roughriders into turnovers. Nate Bihn's three-pointer with 5:29 left in the first half capped a 9-1 run to tie the game at 19-all. St. Marys managed to get the lead back up to three, but Celina went on an 8-0 run to end the half, with Greg Riemesch's bucket with 51 seconds left giving Celina a 27-25 lead, with Bihn hitting free throws before the horn giving Celina 29-25 halftime lead.
"We came out and made some shots. The second quarter, we didn't make shots," said St. Marys coach Dan Hegemier. "Lot of those shots went in the first quarter. Second quarter, they didn't go in."
Celina worked to push the lead at the start of the third quarter as Homan, who struggled in the first half, used the foul line to put some distance from the Roughriders, but St. Marys refused to give up, as J.D. Meyer and Manning hit big shots that got it to 39-36 with 2:28 left in the quarter.
Celina pushed the lead back up, and midway through the fourth quarter was looking to put the game away, up nine at 50-41 with 4:48 to go. St. Marys, however, made a run again as Meyer and Fledderjohann helped the Roughriders cut the Bulldog lead to 50-48 with 2:44 to go.
"We've been harping on this all year," said coach Bihn about St. Marys getting back into the game. "... We get into this situations at half court where we don't always make the best decisions down the stretch. We've got to work at making better decisions and work at finishing games. I'd like to see it not get down to two points
St. Marys, however, could not get closer, missing several key shots down the stretch. Celina put the game away, as Scott Moeder took a pass from Homan for a layup with 47 seconds left, then teamed with Nate Bihn and Homan to hit six straight free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
"I thought St. Marys shot the ball well tonight, especially early," said coach Bihn. "As hot as they were, we were that cold. We missed some layups, missed some free throws. We had to rely on our defense throughout the game to pull that one out."
"Very proud of the kids," said Hegemier. "Thought we played hard. Celina is very aggressive. They make you play. You can't sit back and watch. They make you play. They make you take the next pass. They speed you up."
Riemesch used a 7-of-9 shooting night from the field to finish with 16 points while pulling down eight rebounds. Homan, shooting 8-of-10 from the foul line, finished with 12 with Nate Bihn scoring 10.
Derek Roop led the Roughriders with 16 points. Manning hit four three-pointers on the night to finish with 14. Fledderjohann and Meyer each added 10.
Celina heads north to the Cougar Den to face undefeated Van Wert in WBL play. St. Marys travels to Cridersville tonight for a non-league matchup with Perry.
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