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02-19-04: Tigers look to clinch share of MAC title

The regular season for boys basketball is slowly winding down, meaning teams are starting their final tuneups for the postseason.
It’s hard to say, though, that Versailles has much to tune up on at this point of the season. The Tigers are 17-0 and ranked second in the Division III state basketball poll, a spot they have occupied much of the season.
A win on Friday night would give the Tigers at least a share of the Midwest Athletic Conference title with just a rescheduled game against Parkway being left on the league slate. The Tigers are considering playing that game after their first-round sectional game but no official date has been set.
This week, though, Versailles will have to take on a Marion Local team that has had some rough stretches after having to replace all five starters from the state title team last season.
At 9-7 overall and 2-5 in the conference, Marion is coming off a weekend that saw a loss to St. Henry followed by a frustration-busting blowout of Arcanum.
Marion’s defense, which historically has been good at keeping teams in the low to mid-40s, hasn’t been as aggressive this season in giving up an average of 47.9 points per game while the offense has averaged 55.9 ppg.
Versailles also has been keeping its foes in the 40s (47.1 ppg.) but the offense has regularly been keeping its scores in the 70s with a 70.7 ppg. average. The Tigers are shooting 15 points higher than their opponents (44.9 to 34.4).
Marquee Matchup: Kyle Gehle vs. Cory Luebke.
Although the numbers have dropped slightly due to defenses designed to stop him, Gehle is still one of the top scoring threats in the state in Division III. The senior guard still leads the Grand Lake area in scoring with a 20.9 ppg. average, just ahead of Celina’s Tim Homan and St. Marys’ Scott Vossler.
Gehle has shown a deadly touch from three-point range after hitting his 50th trey of the season in Saturday’s win over Division III defending state champion Reading. Don’t expect Gehle to just sit behind the three-point arc, though, as the Tigers senior also has a knack for getting to the basket off the dribble.
On the other side of the duel between former quarterbacks during the fall season, Luebke has been the biggest scoring threat for the Flyers. Luebke was the only regular scorer coming back from last season’s team when he came off the bench. Luebke’s three-point game, which was a specialty last season, has become a complement to his all-around game this season.
Wapakoneta at Celina
Senior Night at the Fieldhouse will be the big chance for the Bulldogs to go out on a high note at home.
A win would give the Bulldogs another 15-win season going into the season finale with St. Marys for the Battle of Grand Lake. Celina has been playing strong all season with just three WBL losses to their name, all coming to the top three teams in the league standings.
Celina will have a week off before getting ready to play the Roughriders at McBroom next week and then get ready for always-tough Bowling Green at the Division I sectional at Liberty-Benton.
The Redskins have doubled their win total from last season. The bad part is that last year they only won three games. Brian Vorst has had his team in most of the contests they face. The under-sized Wapak squad, with just one player standing taller than 6-2, relies on the three-pointer to score points. The speed-oriented team likes to press and force turnovers to get some easy baskets.
Marquee Matchup: Brent Schroeder vs. Tim Homan.
Schroeder is one of the hot shooters for the Redskins. The 5-10 senior has averaged 13.3 points per game in the previous eight contests and scored 12 in the Redskins’ big win over Bath last Friday to get Wapak its second league win of the season.
Friday’s home finale will give Homan one last chance to wow the Bulldog faithful. Homan went over the 1,000-point mark of his career last Friday at Defiance and helped pad his total with a 28-point effort against Lima Central Catholic.
Homan is 46 points away from tying Mike Reichert for second-place on the all-time list. If the Bulldogs get a nice tournament run, Homan could make a run at Jay VanderHorst’s all-time mark of 1,127.
St. Marys at Bath
The Roughriders are looking to be on of the hottest teams entering the post season after picking up its 13th win of the year against Greenville on Saturday. After winning despite a Shaquille-esqe night from the foul line in the win at Elida, St. Marys will look to have a big night against a hapless Bath squad that has suffered through a long season.
St. Marys’ chances for backing into the WBL title is not that hopeful, but St. Marys can still finish up big with a win over Bath before getting ready for the Battle of Grand Lake at Celina a week later.
The Wildcats’ lone league win came from Kenton, which still hasn’t won a game this season. Wapak handed the Wildcats its sixth league loss by 12 points.
Marquee Matchup: Scott Vossler vs. Kyle Kimmel.
Vossler has continued to dominate the offense for the Roughriders, averaging 19.1 ppg. With Corey Vossler coming back from injury and Kyle Vossler adding some big games, especially the 11 points against Elida, Vossler won’t have to bear the whole weight of scoring points.
Kimmel has been the most productive Wildcat in the past five games. Kimmel averages 12.6 points per game in the last five games.
St. John’s at St. Henry
A battle between teams that will both head to Elida for the Division III sectional will feature teams looking for the last boost before postseason.
The Blue Jays dominated New Knoxville last week, holding the Rangers to just 23 points. St. John’s has been playing a strong style of basketball of late and a win at St. Henry would boost the team heading into next week’s season finale with Marion Local.
St. Henry went from a dominating win over Marion Local at the Hangar to a cold shooting night against Van Wert one night later. The Redskins were stymied by a Cougar defense that did not allow an open shot outside and closed down the middle, preventing Steve Sutter or Kurt Huelsman from dominating the inside.
Marquee Matchup: Chad Reynolds vs. Nate Stahl.
Reynolds has been domininating in taking the lead scoring chores this season. Reynolds had 10 points in the win over St. John’s
After a couple of weeks of struggling, Stahl had a breakout weekend. Stahl scored 22 in the win over Marion and hit a hot streak in the third quarter to finish with 18 against Van Wert. Stahl’s season averaged nearly jumped a full points to 13.7 ppg. this week.
Fort Recovery at Coldwater
The Indians got a boost on Tuesday with a big win over Houston. giving a spark to a team that has suffered some tough losses over the season.
If it’s much comfort to first-year coach Brian Patch, he should look at the record of his predecessor to the head chair in the Indians program. Joe Bruns went 5-17 in his first year as Tribe coach. Two years later the Indians were state runner-ups after losing in triple overtime to Worthington Christian.
Coldwater went from a strong game in the win over Parkway, shooting over 50 percent as a team, to a tough loss to Delphos Jefferson despite another 50 percent shooting game. The matchup with Jefferson gives Coldwater an insight in play in the Northwest Conference as Coldwater faces NWC member Spencerville in the first round of the sectional at Elida.
The Cavaliers are looking to end the MAC season above .500. Coldwater is 4-4 in the league since they played Versailles earlier in the season due to the Tigers’ early tournament start.
Marquee Matchup: Dusty Tobe vs. Craig Koesters
Tobe is coming off a strong game against Houston, hitting for 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Tobe raises his average to 12.6 ppg. after getting 14 points in Friday’s challenging game with Versailles.
Koesters is coming off a spectacular scoring weekend for the Cavaliers. Koesters had 16, including two big dunks, in the win over Parkway on Friday and followed up with 17 on Saturday against Jefferson.
New Bremen at New Knoxville
In its 30-year history of being a member of the MAC, the Cardinals have won five or more league titles only seven times. A win on Friday at Ranger Gymnasium would make it eight times and the first time since the Cards shared the MAC title with St. John’s in the 1997-98 season.
The Cardinals are going through one of its best seasons in recent years but face a New Knoxville team that has given the Cardinals fits over the years, including last year when New Bremen blew a seven-point lead and allowed the Rangers to win by one at Cardinal Gym. Last year, though, New Bremen struggled to win.
The Cardinals got a key spark back with Scott Brackman returning after missing much of the season with an arm injury.
New Knoxville has had its struggles. Last week the Rangers were held to just 23 points in losing to St. John’s. That was followed up by a loss to surging Lincolnview.
Marquee Matchup: Troy Lammers vs. Kale Wierwille
Lammers came through with a big game in the win over backyard rival Minster, scoring 19 points against the Wildcats. With Brackman back, Lammers could return to his shooting guard spot in the lineup, even though he was averaging 3.1 assists per game in running the offense.
Wierwille is coming off a good shooting game in the loss to Lincolnview. Wierwille scored 18 in leading the Rangers in the loss.
Parkway at Minster
Even when losing, the Panthers show they have some spark.
Parkway shot 53 percent in the loss to Coldwater last week, playing some of its best basketball of the season. Even with a tough loss at Paulding last week, the showing over the weekend can only help the team.
Minster split last weekend, losing the Battle of Ohio 66 to a New Bremen team that was voted the second seed at the Coldwater sectional despite having more wins than Minster.
Marquee Matchup: Mark Snyder vs. Dane Sommer.
Last Friday, Snyder missed his first shot and his last shot, hitting all 10 attempts in between for a season-high 27 points. Snyder has impressed many all season and drew high praise from Coldwater coach Don Vogt.
Snyder’s ability to carry the team on his back has to be a good thing for the program, which started two sophomores in the lineup much of the season.
Sommer was held to just 12 points in the loss to New Bremen. Sommer needs just two more three-pointers to move into second place behind brother Dustin on the all-time three-pointer list.


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