Saturday, January 23rd, 2021
St. Henry holds off Indians in final minutes
By Dave Stilwell
St Henry's Bennett Gels (2) gets fouled by Fort Recovery's Cale Rammel (22) in t. . .
ST. HENRY - The shots weren't falling, so St. Henry dug in on the defensive end and came up with some crucial stops.
Despite shooting 1-of-9 on free throws in the fourth quarter, the Redskins were able to hang on down the stretch for a 43-42 victory over Fort Recovery Friday night at the St. Henry Gymnasium.
The Indians, who had free throw woes of their own - 2-for-9 in the fourth quarter - chipped away at a fourth quarter deficit and had three possessions to take the lead in the final 90 seconds, but came up short each time.
Bennett Gels hit a three-pointer with 5:12 left in the game to put the Redskins up 40-32. Fort Recovery responded with a 9-1 run, thanks in part to a three-pointer by Gavin Thobe and a trey from Derek Jutte that tied the game at 41 with 2:20 left.
Gels hit a driving layup at the 2:05 mark to regain the lead for St. Henry, 43-41.
Fort Recovery's Brian Bihn hit one of two free throws with 1:20 left on the clock, which proved to be the game's final point.
After St. Henry missed the front end of a one-and-one with 27.3 seconds left, the Indians got the rebound and called timeout with 8.8 seconds remaining to set up a final play.
Fort Recovery tried to lob the ball inside to the 6-6 Bihn, but the entry pass sailed just over his outreached hands and out of bounds with 2.1 seconds left. From there the Redskins were able to hang on for the win.
"This is how we're built to get into these grinders," St. Henry coach Eric Rosenbeck said. "Guys like Logan Lefeld, Casey Bruening, Jaden Lange, and Carter Ontrop, they love it. They'll go all day, and whether it's grinding on a Monday morning lift or a Friday night basketball game, they really compete at the highest level, and it's one of the reasons I love coaching them so much."
Fort Recovery held the upper hand for much of the early going, thanks mainly to some torrid outside shooting. Owen Jutte connected on the Indians' fifth 3-pointer to give the visitors their largest lead, 22-18, with 6:18 left in the first half.
In contrast, St. Henry was 0-for-8 from behind the arc in the opening two quarters, but the Redskins dominated the boards in the first half (20-11), and were able to pick up the defensive intensity.
Fort Recovery was held to just two field goals in the final six minutes of the second quarter, and just one field goal in all of the third quarter, as the Redskins took a 37-32 lead into the final eight minutes.
"Defensively, I did not like how we started the game at all," Rosenbeck said. "It was too simple, too easy, and Fort Recovery can really fill it up when you allow them to execute. But about midway through the second quarter the guys started to understand the game plan better. They dug in, and I loved the mental fortitude they showed from the five-minute mark of the second quarter until the end of the game."
It was a physical game, featuring a combined 37 personal fouls and 44 free throws.
Bennett Gels lead all scorers with 15 points. Lefeld and Bruening grabbed nine rebounds each to pace the Skins on the glass.
Cale Rammel paced a balanced Fort Recovery attack with 10 points. The Indians, now 3-2 in the Midwest Athletic Conference and 7-7 overall, will travel to Fort Loramie tonight, and return to conference action next Friday at home with Coldwater.
St. Henry improves to 11-4 overall and stays unbeaten in the MAC at 5-0, setting up a showdown next Friday at Minster, which is the MAC's only other unbeaten team.
"Huge game next Friday," Rosenbeck said. "They are a very good team. They are athletic, they're long, and they're skilled, so we're going to have to have our best performance of the season. But if I know these guys they'll be ready to go Monday at practice, and will be locked and loaded for the Wildcats."
St. Henry will get a warm-up to the Minster game as it travels to Wapakoneta tonight.