SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor
WAPAKONETA — Jacoby Kelly scored 29 points, but it wasn’t enough as Van Wert dropped Friday night’s Western Buckeye League opener to Wapakoneta, 56-49.
15 of Kelly’s points came in the fourth quarter – three baskets, a trey and six from the foul line. The 5-9 senior guard also scored 12 points in the first half, including seven in the opening period.
The Cougars (2-1, 0-1 WBL) got off to a good start and led 11-5 after the first quarter, but the Redskins (3-1, 1-0 WBL) came alive in the second period and outscored the Cougars 18-11.
Baskets by Wapakoneta’s Ryan Carrico and Adam Scott trimmed Van Wert’s lead to 11-9, but Nate Place drilled a triple to make it 14-9. Wapakoneta’s Nick Schoonover answered with a three pointer of his own, then tied the game at 14 with two foul shots. Place hit another trey to put Van Wert up 17-14. Short shots by Schoonover and Scott put the Redskins back up, and the two teams began trading baskets for the remainder of the period. Schoonever drilled another three as time expired, giving the Redskins a 23-22 halftime lead.
Gage Schenk scored six of Wapakoneta’s 12 third quarter points, while Drew Bagley scored four of Van Wert’s 10 points in the period.
Armed with a 35-32 lead to begin the fourth quarter the Redskins opened with a 9-2 run, with Aaron Good accounting for all nine of Wapakoneta’s points. Trailing 44-32, the Cougars went on a 7-0 run and later closed the gap to one, 45-44, before Reed Merricle drained a triple that made it 48-44. From there the Redkins used foul shots to cement the victory.
The two teams finished fairly close in terms of team shooting. Wapakoneta was 20-42 (48 percent) from the floor, including 5-15 (33 percent) on three pointers, while Van Wert shot 50 percent from the floor (19-38) and 31 percent (4-13) from three point land. The Cougars were 8-12 from the free throw line, compared to Wapakoneta’s 11-14. Van Wert out-rebounded the Redskins 25-17, but the Cougars had more turnovers (10-7).
The Cougars will travel to Delphos St. John’s next Friday, then will host Wayne Trace on Saturday.
Wapakoneta 5 18 12 21 – 56
Van Wert 11 11 10 17 – 49
Wapakoneta: Gage Schenk 8-3-11; Nick Schoonover 3-6-12; 6-2-15; Reed Merricle 3-0-8; Adam Scott 3-2-8; Ryan Carrico 1-0-2
Van Wert: Nate Place 4-0-10; Jacoby Kelly 10-7-29; Jonathan Lee 1-0-2; 1-0-2; Drew Bagley 2-0-6
JV: Van Wert 45-28