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02-26-04: Battle of Grand Lake set for Friday


Rivalry games are always intense battles, regardless of what the two teams’ records are when they meet. When both teams in a rivalry game have outstanding records, then the intensity seems to be even greater.
If that’s true, Celina head coach Mike Kanney and St. Marys mentor Josh Leslie should get ready for one of the most intense games of the season for either team as the Bulldogs travel to McBroom Gymnasium on Friday to battle the Roughriders in the annual Battle of Grand Lake.
“Every year this is a big game for both teams,” admits Leslie. “With both teams having good seasons, the rivalry will be even greater this year.”
“You can always throw the records out when we play each other,” said Kanney. “It’s always an emotional game and the gym will be packed. It’s just a great game for this time of the year.”
Both teams are having strong seasons with Celina checking in at 15-4 overall (5-3 in Western Buckeye League) while St. Marys still has an outside chance at a league title with a mark of 14-5 overall and 6-2 in league play.
To say that St. Marys still has an outside shot at the WBL title is even a stretch since the Roughriders need both Shawnee and Ottawa-Glandorf to lose on Friday to earn a piece of the hardware. The Indians face a feisty Elida squad that could turn into an upset possibility, but the Titans will be heavy favorites when they meet Kenton, which hasn’t won a game this season.
“It’s not likely that we’ll get a piece of the league title, but we let it slip away earlier in the year, so we’re just worried about ourselves and not what other teams are doing,” said Leslie.
Both St. Marys and Celina have relied on their defense throughout the season as the Roughriders excel in a zone defense while the Bulldogs rely on a tenacious man-to-man. Both Kanney and Leslie realize that scoring could be difficult heading into Friday’s showdown.
“St. Marys does a nice job in their zone defense and does a lot of different things out of it,” explained Kanney. “They have strong and athletic kids that play well in their system. They’re going to limit our good looks on offense so we have to be able to hit shots early.”
“We know that Celina is going to play good defense and they have the athletic ability to make things difficult for offenses,” noted Leslie. “What we have to do is be patient on offense and take good shots. We can’t let Celina dictate what type of shots that we get, we have to execute our offense.”
Both defenses will have its hands full as Celina and St. Marys have potential all-state players representing their team on the court.
Celina’s Tim Homan and St. Marys’ Scott Vossler are their teams’ clear offensive leaders as Homan is averaging 20.1 points per game while Vossler checks in at 18.7 ppg.
“Tim Homan is capable of so much,” lauded Leslie. “You can’t let your defense lose him because he can score from all over the floor. We just have to limit his touches.”
“We have to make sure that Scott Vossler doesn’t get on a roll,” admitted Kanney. “He’s a good offensive player that plays hard and smart.”
Although Leslie knows that his Roughriders must contain Homan, he also knows that the Bulldogs aren’t a one-man team on offense.
“You have to focus on Homan to a point, but Celina has other people who can score too,” acknowledged Leslie. “Joe Kanney is capable of a big game, Adam Tindall is playing well right now, Scott Boley is an underrated player and a great passer and Brian Gagle is an athletic kid as well.”

NOTES: With Celina’s win over Wapakoneta last Friday, the Bulldogs have hit the 15-win plateau for the seventh straight year... Tim Homan is 31 points shy of tying Mike Reichert for second on the all-time scoring list for Celina... St. Marys’ Scott Vossler has taken more free throws as an individual than the Roughriders opponents have attempted as a team.... If St. Marys is able to gain a share of the WBL title, it will be the first one for the Roughriders since the 1981 season when they shared it with Elida and Kenton... Ottawa-Glandorf and Shawnee are looking to repeat as WBL champs after the two teams also shared the hardware with Celina a year ago... If Ottawa-Glandorf is able to beat Kenton on Friday, it will be the fifth straight year that the Titans have won at least a share of the league title and the eighth time in the last nine years. It would also mark the 14th time that O-G has won the WBL title all-time, just one behind Celina (15) for most of any school in WBL history.


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