By Gary R. Rasberry
COLDWATER -- Don Vogt came out of the Coldwater locker room, listened to the first question and said "It's been that way the last six games."
The 'it" that the Coldwater coach referred to has been the period of time during each game where there is a scoring drought for the Cavaliers and other teams have stepped up and come away with wins.
The scenario was the same on Saturday night as Celina came calling to the Palace. Coldwater took an eight-point lead with 4:47 remaining in the third quarter, only to have Celina tie and then take the lead in the final moments of the quarter, then pull away for the 52-39 win in non-conference action.
Coldwater drops its sixth game in a row to fall to 4-8 while Celina wins its fifth in a row to go to 9-4 on the season.
The Cavaliers had everything going their way for the first 20 minutes of the game. Strong defense kept the Bulldogs from getting consistent points from their big scorers and some timely shooting from the likes of Chad Miller and Brian Brunswick sparked the offense. But as soon as Celina turned up its defense and saw some shots to start to drop to go along with the Cavalier cold spell, it was, in the words of Yogi Berra, deja vu all over again for the Cavalier faithful.
What did the Cavaliers in was turnovers. Coldwater committed 17 of them, including six in the fourth quarter and 11 in the second half.
"The defense has come along," said Vogt. "Offensively, we just have to work on handling the pressure. We just turned the ball over way too much, in critical times."
Racheting up the man-to-man defense and some hot shooting in the later second half proved timely for Celina.
"I thought Coldwater did a nice job in the matchup zone," said Celina coach Mike Kanney. "We had a hard time with it in the first half. We only had 15 points. We came back and the kids adjusted a little better in the second half. We hit some shots and got a few more offensive rebounds. We did what we had to do down the stretch."
Coldwater took its biggest lead of the game with 4:47 remaining in the third quarter when Brent Robbins hit a layup to put the Cavs up 25-17. Celina began its charge when Brandon Wurster hit a three-pointer to make it a 25-20. Chad Miller answered his a bucket -- his sixth consecutive make of the game -- with just under four minutes to go in the quarter. Scott Luthman got it back to five with a pair of free throws before Aaron Braun drove the lane and was fouled as the ball went through the hoop. The made free toss was good to make it 27-25.
After several scoreless possessions on both sides, Celina answered again as Seth Staugler hit a long trey from the top of the key to give the Bulldogs its first lead. As time wound down, Braun got the ball and fired a 25-footer, hitting nothing but net at the buzzer to put Celina up 31-27 going into the final eight minutes.
"We talked about being more aggressive against the defense," said Kanney about halftime adjustments. "We were kind of staring at it. The thing is that we knocked down some shots. I think our kids did a great job not letting them get any easy ones."
The Bulldogs pushed it to 34-27 just moments into the fourth quarter before Coldwater got its first points in over four minutes on a Robbins stickback. Celina got it to 40-31 before the Cavaliers staged a rally to get it to 40-37 with 2:33 left.
Brady Geier, starting in place of the injured Chad Geier, scored all six of his points in a span of 1:21 to lead the charge. Celina recovered and outscored the Cavaliers 12-2 down the stretch to come away with the win, with the big play coming from Braun, who stole an inbounds pass after a pair of Staugler free throws and put it in to make it 44-37.
The loss of Chad Geier, who hurt his ankle in the St. Henry game on Saturday and was in street clothes, was a factor, but Vogt did not make it an excuse.
"Not making any excuses, but anytime you lose your leading scorer (Geier averages 13.2 ppg.), it doesn't help," said Vogt. "I thought Brian Brunswick came in and played well in the first half, which is a plus for him."
Braun finished the night with 20 points to lead all scorers. Wurster was 5-of-6 from the foul line and finished with eight points. Staugler and Luthman added seven each.
Miller finished strong to score 14 points and pull down 11 rebounds while Robbins added eight.
Celina returns to Western Buckeye League action on Friday when Ottawa-Glandorf makes the trip from Putnam County. Coldwater travels to Marion Township to face Marion Local in Midwest Athletic Conference action.