League battles get the Friday
night focus this week as the Western Buckeye League and Midwest
Athletic Conference teams are hoping that Santa Claus gave them
some wins for the new year.
An early battle at the top of the MAC takes place down in Darke
County as 5-1 Minster faces unbeaten Versailles. Both teams
are unbeaten in the MAC with Versailles holding the slight lead
after Tuesday’s win at Coldwater.
The Wildcats, after a dismal opening night loss to Spencerville,
have been dominant in the five straight wins, including Saturday’s
66-53 win over Jackson Center. With key scorers from last season
graduated, Mike Lee has done well putting together a core of
players that can step up and score at any time.
The Tigers haven’t let the state football championship
run filter any thoughts of success on the hardwood. With four
starters being key cogs in the gridiron title run and one more
off the bench, the Tigers have put together a solid successful
group that has blown out several teams this season with a strong
outside shooting game.
Marquee Matchup: Dane Sommer vs. Kyle Gehle.
Sommer has been the top scorer for the Wildcats this season,
averaging 18.4 points per game in the five wins. As the only
productive scorer back from last season, the junior had some
shoes to fill as the leading scorer when his older brother Dustin
took his catcher’s mitt to Toledo. The 6-1 junior has
come through and has a lot of help when his shot was off.
Gehle has dominated on the court as he did on the field. The
senior is coming off a 25-point night against Coldwater and
already has a 30-point game to his credit after taking MVP honors
at the Jet Classic at Franklin-Monroe scoring 33 in a 60-point
win over the host Jets.
Gehle has been lights out from behind the three-point line,
shooting 45.9 percent from the arc coming into this week. After
hitting 55 three-pointers in 21 games last season, Gehle is
on track to break that mark, making 20 through six games this
St. Henry at Fort Recovery
Beyond Versailles and Minster, The Redskins might be the hottest
team in the area. After having two subpar games to start the
season, St. Henry followed by scoring 70 or more points in five
of their six straight wins since.
The offense has mixed things up with four players getting into
double figures on a regular basis. WIth a starting lineup going
6-0, 6-4, 6-5, 6-6 and 6-9, the Redskins pose matchup concerns
with all teams.
The Indians have mixed good games with not so good games this
season. The Indians are due a good game after losing to previously
unbeaten Ansonia on Dec. 27.
Marquee Matchup: Kurt Huelsman vs. John Bihn.
At 6-2, Bihn is one of the smallest centers in the MAC, but
the three-year letterman has been used to taking on much larger
players in the paint and Bihn regularlly puts up strong efforts.
Bihn has had some big games this season. In the loss to Ansonia,
Bihn pulled down 10 offensive boards and finished with a 14-point,
18-rebound night. Bihn is currently the only area player averaging
double figures in both scoring (12.3 ppg.) and rebounding (11.7
Bihn will need to battled Huelsman — and for that matter
Steve Sutter as well — in the paint. Huelsman (6-9, sophomore)
has been strong during the winning streak. Huelsman has hit
61.4 percent of his shots this season and averages five blocks
per game. In Saturday’s win over Ansonia, Huelsman had
seven blocks, five coming at the expense of 6-5 center Adam
New Knoxville at Coldwater
Both teams enter the game looking for a spark for the rest of
the season. The Cavaliers overcame a big deficit to give Versailles
a game on Tuesday night before seeing their record even out
at 3-3. The Rangers are coming off a win over Anna that evened
the team’s mark at 4-4.
The Cavaliers have had some struggles finding the players to
shoot the ball when the time is right. Coach Don Vogt hoped
that Tuesday’s game, which saw three Cavs in double figures,
will be the start of something bigger.
The Rangers seem to be alternating wins for losses, not a great
sign considering that the last game was a win. One good sign
is that the Rangers have played tough with the Cavaliers in
the past, including last season when the Cavaliers had to hold
on for a six-point win.
Marquee Matchup: Tyler Henschen vs. Brandon Bettinger
Henschen has been slowly turning his game into a dominant factor
in the wins for the Rangers. The 6-1 sophomore leads the team
in scoring at 9.6 points per game and also has been pulling
down five boards a game. Henschen’s 55.7 percent field
goal percent ranks among the leaders in the area this week.
Bettinger, who didn’t play basketball last season, has
made the most of his senior season so far. Coming off the bench,
Bettinger is averaging five points and two rebounds this season.
Bettinger could be getting more minutes after coming up with
a solid game against Versailles. Bettinger hit both his field
goals and was 6-of-10 from the foul line in scoring 10 points.
St. John’s at New Bremen
It may be time to change the policy of the coach of the MAC
team champions getting the coach of the year honors in the league.
Cardinals coach Mike Ernst deserves a big nod for the award
after the early turnaround his team has had. After winning just
five games all of last season, New Bremen has won five of its
last six with the loss coming at the hands of always-tough Fort
The Cardinals look to equal its conference win total from last
year on Friday as St. John’s comes to town.
The Blue Jays are off to a strong start after the late debut
due to football. The Blue Jays are coming off a win over Wapakoneta.
Coach Brett Norris has been using a rotation of eight players
to start the season.
Marquee Matchup: Scott Schmiesing vs. Chad Reynolds
Schmiesing has been a powerhouse in the hot streak the Cardinals
have had this season. The 6-5 senior leads the team in scoring
with 14.1 points and in rebounding at 8.6 boards per game.
Reynolds saw plenty of time last season as a sophomore for the
Jays and has taken the scoring role with the departures of Brian
Clark, Nate Klaus and Mike Anthony. The 6-6 Reynolds averages
14.5 points and 5.2 boards a game for the Jays.
Wapakoneta at St. Marys
The Roughriders are coming in strong after a good victory over
Sidney on Tuesday night. After dropping a slugfest to Minster
in game four, St. Marys has spun four wins in a row and needs
the win over Auglaize County rival Wapak to stay unbeaten in
The Redskins are doing a lot better this season than how they
started last year. The 3-3 mark this year already matches the
win total from all of last season, when coach Brian Vorst suffered
through an 0-10 start.
Wapak will bring a small team to the floor with just one player
that stands over 6-1 in 6-3 junior Matt Brackman.
Marquee Matchup: Austin McCormick vs. Tom Burke.
McCormick has been a regular scorer for the Redskins this season.
The 5-10 junior guard had a breakout game against St. Henry
with a 22-point showing in a 87-75 loss. That combined with
backcourt mate Brett Schroeder’s 20 allowed the Redskins
to stay in the game.
Burke has been a consistent compliment to Scott Vossler’s
big game, averaging 8.9 points per game. Tuesday night was Burke’s
breakout night, scoring 20 points on the help of a record-tying
six three-pointers in the win over the Yellow Jackets.
Marion Local at Parkway
One thing is for sure for the Panthers: Things cannot get any
worse. On the flipside, things can always be a little better
for Marion Local.
The Flyers are 2-2 and after winning a share of the MAC last
season, Mariona is 0-1 in the conference thanks to an overtime
home loss to New Bremen. Marion was victorious over a tough
Covington team on Dec. 27 but due to a flu outbreak at Lehman
that postponded their Dec. 30 game, has not played since.
The Panthers have looked a little better the past couple of
games. The team shot 58 percent from the floor in an eight-point
loss to Ottoville last week. Although the shooting percentage
was down nearly 25 points in Tuesday’s loss to Fort Jennings,
the Panthers are starting to get some added scoring.
Marquee Matchup: Cory Luebke vs. Mark Snyder
Luebke is one of the only returning players back from the state
title team last season that saw any significant playing time.
Luebke has stepped up and took over some of the scoring this
season, scoring 15 in the win over Covington on Dec. 27. At
6-3, Luebke can go inside to post up but can hit the long-range
shots, something that he specialized in last season.
Only a sophomore, Snyder has become one of the key components
for the future of the Panther program. The 6-6 forward is second
on the team in scoring at 9.2 points per game and his 7.7 rebounds
per game leads the team and is in the top 10 for the area.