By Gary R. Rasberry
ST. HENRY -- It's tough to beat a team that connects on nearly 60 percent of its field goals.
It's even tougher when the team misses just four shots in the second half.
St. Henry connected on 12 of its 16 field-goal attempts in the second half, pulling away from Coldwater throughout the game for a 58-38 win at Redskin Gymnasium.
The Redskins, the sixth-ranked team in Division III, improves to 12-1 overall and 4-1 in the Midwest Athletic Conference while Coldwater falls to 4-7 overall and 1-4 in league play.
St. Henry established itself early by going inside to either Kurt Huelsman or Toby Boeckman and neither disappointed in their effort. Boeckman hit five of his seven shots -- all in the first half -- to finish with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Redskins.
Huelsman took over in the second half, making all four of his shots and all four of his free throws to help wrap up a 23-point night on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 shooting from the foul line.
For the game, the Redskins were 23-of-39 for 59 percent and 9-of-12 from the foul line.
"I was real happy with the teamwork," said St. Henry coach Joe Niekamp. "We've got some guys who tonight were stepping up and not caring about points but were doing the things we needed. Zack Thobe and Andy Puthoff did a great job helping us get the ball where we needed it to be."
"I thought in the first half Boeckman and Huelsman did a great job on the boards," said Coldwater coach Mike Kanney. "We could have done a little bit better job on them. It was like 17-7 on rebounds by halftime (and ended 32-21 in favor of St. Henry)."
St. Henry took control midway through the first quarter. Coldwater scored with 5:49 left in the quarter on a Gaston Pleiman jumper, then went ice cold the rest of the quarter, not getting another point until 31 seconds into the second half. That allowed St. Henry to go from being up 6-4 to taking a 14-4 lead by the end of the quarter. Boeckman hit back-to-back buckets, followed by a pair of free throws and a putback by Huelsman with two seconds left in the quarter.
Coldwater got as close as 18-12 with 5:25 left in the half, only to go cold again for the remainder of the period. The Redskins wrapped up the first half with a 9-0 run to go up 27-12 at the break.
"I thought we had some decent shots in the first half," said Kanney, whose team was 5-of-22 from the floor in the first half. "We just couldn't get them to go."
When Huelsman or Boeckman did not get the shot, it was Mitch Niekamp who took a turn. The junior came off the bench and connected on his first six shots -- two of them three-pointers -- to finish with 14 points.
"He's been playing extremely well for us of late off the bench," coach Niekamp said of his son. "It's nice knowing that you have somebody coming off the bench that's going to give you quality minutes. He complements those guys with a little bit of inside and play outside. He's been playing well.
"It was a good all-around team effort," continued coach Niekamp. "Seems like on different nights, we have different guys stepping up. We've been getting quality play down low and did again tonight."
Coldwater was more aggressive in the second half, forcing the inside issue with the Redskins. Gaston Pleiman hit all six free throws he tried in the half as the Cavaliers were a perfect 11-of-11 from the charity stripe in the game.
"I talked to our kids at halftime about being more aggressive because we never got to the line (in the first half)," said Kanney. "We did a much better job in the second half. There's a positive there."
Mike Lefeld, Aaron Evers and Pleiman each had eight to pace the Cavaliers, who were 11-of-45 from the field (24.4 percent) in the game.
Both teams return to action tonight. St. Henry stays home to host its neighbor to the south Ansonia. Coldwater travels north to the Fieldhouse to face Celina as Kanney coaches against his former team for the first time. The junior varsity tip-off will be at 6 p.m. with the game being aired on WTLW channel 44 (Adelphia channel 13) at 10:30 p.m. tonight.