Saturday, February 9th, 2019
'Riders catch fire to end long losing streak at Celina
By Gary R. Rasberry
St. Marys' Jack Cisco (10) gets ready to make a move while being defended by Cel. . .
CELINA - Late in the fourth quarter, the St. Marys student section, tucked into the one corner of the Celina Fieldhouse, began to chant "This is our house!"
For the second half of Friday's Battle of Grand Lake, the Roughriders seemed to be comfy in enemy territory.
St. Marys shot 82 percent from the field in the final two periods and overcame a six-point halftime deficit to beat the Bulldogs 62-48. It was the first win for St. Marys in Celina since 2005 and the second straight regular season win over the Bulldogs.
"Last year, it was the first win in 13 games," St. Marys coach Craig Szymczak said. "This year, coming to the Fieldhouse (and winning), I'm proud of those guys and the hard work they put in. We've said all year that (when) something good happens, let's take it on a roll."
The first half was a back-and-forth battle. St. Marys (6-10, 2-5 WBL) went up 16-14 with 6:59 remaining in the half on a Max Mielke bucket and Carson Fischbach made it a four-point lead with a bucket. Celina's Austin Okeley showed he still had the hot hand from last Saturday's 26-point showing against St. Henry, hitting a 3 to cut it to 18-17. Corbin Murphy put Celina in front with two free throws and then Okeley hit a bucket to make it 21-18. Brandon Yenser knocked down a trey in the final minute to put Celina in front 24-18 at the half.
Carter Ballweg started the third quarter with a triple to get St. Marys going, only to have Okeley respond. But after Yenser scored with 5:57 left in the quarter to put Celina up 28-23, the tide began to turn the Roughriders way. Ethan Steger, scoreless in the first half, hit a free throw and then followed with a 3-pointer to cut it to 28-27. After a scoreless Celina possession, Braeden Dunlap got the stickback to fall to put St. Marys into the lead. Ballweg added another trey and Mielke scored five straight points to complete the 14-0 run as St. Marys led 37-28 with 1:34 left in the third.
"Against Van Wert, we dominated the second half, but just couldn't finish it," Szymczak said. "Same thing tonight. (Celina) was playing off our emotion going up six (at the half). I thought we did a great job keeping our composure and coming out and playing a great second half."
"In the first half I thought we did a good job of speeding them up," said Celina coach Jay Imwalle. "When they had open looks, they were rushed. They obviously talked about it at halftime and they were more under control in the second half and hit shots."
St. Marys led by 10 at the end of the third quarter. With Celina forced to foul in the fourth quarter, Roughrider point guard Jack Cisco proved to be the best player to have the ball in his hands. Cisco, who entered the game averaging just 1.5 points per game but had made six of his seven free throw chances, put the game on ice by making 7 of 8 from the stripe in the fourth quarter to keep the Roughriders comfortably in front until the final horn.
"We got some steals, got some layups and hit our free throws in the fourth quarter," Szymczak said. "Jack stepped up to the line and sealed the game for us,"
"I think we had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half (and) five in the second half," Imwalle said. "We knew going in we would have to hit some shots from the perimeter. I don't know if the kids pressed a bit, but for the most part, we got some decent looks. We just didn't knock them down."
After shooting 36 percent in the first half, St. Marys was 14 of 17 from the floor in the second half (82.4 percent) and 11 of 15 from the foul line.
Mielke scored 19 to lead St. Marys. Steger added 14 as Cisco and Ballweg each added nine.
Okeley was the only Bulldog able to get the shots to drop on the night, finishing with a game-high 28 points.
Both teams are in action tonight as St. Marys returns to Murotech Court to host Auglaize County foe Minster. Celina (5-13,3-4 WBL) travels to Miami County to face Troy.