By MARC TOBIAS
With five teams within one game of first place in the Western
Buckeye League, any minor slip-up for St. Marys could prove
On the other hand, this weekend provides an opportunity, because
if St. Marys (9-4, 3-1 WBL) can upset league leading Shawnee
(8-3, 4-0 WBL) it will move into a first-place tie in the WBL.
That of course is easier said then done, especially since the
game is in Lima, and the Indians have Jamar Butler.
Butler, a likely Mr. Ohio candidate this season, is averaging
32.8 points, 7.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game.
“We kind of look at it as he’s going to score his
points, there’s nothing you can do to keep him from getting
20 or 30 points,” said St. Marys coach Josh Leslie. “I
think the idea a lot of coaches take is you need to limit what
the other guys get. Defensively you need to find (Jermain) Bratton
and keep those guys in check and don’t let them get a
lot of good looks at three-(pointers).”
Limiting the other guys hasn’t been easy for most teams
either, as the Indians are averaging 80.6 ppg. Bratton has been
a nice second scoring option for the Indians averaging 13.5
ppg. while making 47 percent of his three-point attempts. Four
other Indians average over 7.0 ppg.
“He (Butler) has the same type of role, but the players
around him are better than what he’s had the last couple
of years,” said Shawnee coach Jeff Heistan. “In
particular, the post players have done a great job being able
to handle Jamar’s passes and finishing at the basket.
The player that I really count on improving the second half
of the season is Jordan Swift (7.4 ppg., 2.6 rpg.), he has a
lot of capability and is a really good athlete. He really hasn’t
got going yet, but I look for him to bust loose at any given
The Indians guards are the biggest threat for Leslie and the
’Riders, as Shawnee loves the three-point shot.
Butler has hoisted 122 threes this season, while the Indians
have taken 237 as a team through 10 games, making 38 percent
of those shots. Shawnee has attempted just 197 shots from inside
“If he (Butler) breaks us down we can’t help, we’ll
have to give up a mid-range jump shot and not allow him to drive
and potentially kick it to one of those three-point shooters,”
Leslie said. “It’s tough sometimes because you have
to give up something to get something else, if you can’t
contain you can’t help on a couple shooters.”
If St. Marys can limit those good outside looks it has to like
its chances, because Shawnee’s inside game while good,
isn’t strong enough to carry the scoring load. If the
Indians’ three-point shooters have an off night, the ‘Riders
zone defense is good enough to give them a few more headaches.
One major question mark defensively is Corey Vossler, because
of a knee injury suffered last weekend. Vossler is easily the
‘Riders best on-the-ball defender and he keys the pressure
at the top of St. Marys’ zone.
Wes Clark, who’s been able to provide a scoring punch
for St. Marys, also tweaked a knee injury last weekend.
“We’ll find out today (Wednesday) in practice to
see how they progress,” Leslie said.
That duo also combines to average roughly 16 ppg., and for a
Roughriders offense that has already struggled to score, it
cannot afford to lose any offensive threats.
The positive side is that Shawnee hasn’t been stellar
on defense, as the Indians are allowing 68.4 ppg. and opponents
are shooting 44 percent from the field and 47 percent inside
the three-point line.
That could be good news for Scott Vossler who’s averaging
16.9 ppg., because the senior has shown he can be a force in
Todd Graves could be another Roughrider to have a big night.
Graves is only averaging 3.8 ppg., but he’s been a tough
matchup for opposing big men because of his ball-handling skills.
“The Graves kid impressed me a great deal, he played guard
quite a bit,” Heistan said. “They’re more
versatile basketball wise than St. Marys has been in a while.”
Butler has garnered most of the tougher defensive matchups for
Shawnee this season, such as Celina’s Tim Homan, but Heistan
said he won’t be guarding Scott Vossler on Friday.
“That’s not a good matchup for us simply because
of his strength, so we’ll use a variety of players on
him and try to force an up-tempo game and try to get him up
and down the floor,” Heistan said.
Leslie, meanwhile, is hoping for a lower scoring and physical
“If it’s in the 70’s or 80’s we can’t
compete, we have to make sure we take a shot that’s good
for us each time down the floor. We can’t be in a fast-paced,
helter-skelter type game like last year when we played them,”
Leslie said. “We’ll also need to send guys to the
glass, we have to get as many opportunities as we can. We can’t
be content with taking one shot and then sprint back.”
Shawnee has been out rebounded by its opponents 282-238, and
the Indians have allowed an average of 11 offensive rebounds