Too much speed from Lima Perry, too many mistakes, and too many easy buckets told the tale Friday as St. Henry exits in the district final.
Wapakoneta – Eric Rosenbeck probably didn’t sleep well Friday night; and it had nothing to do with his Sealy Posture-Pedic.
No, it was a nightmare at the hands of Lima Perry that had Rosenbeck counting sheep, his St. Henry Redskins falling to the 24-2 Commodores 60-51 in the Division IV district final at Wapakoneta High School. It marked Perry’s first district title in school history!
A lot of things went wrong for St. Henry. Who you believe in that regard is a matter of perspective.
One, Perry is good. Very good. Lacking the size to be a truly “great” team, coach Matt Tabler knows how his bread gets buttered. They’re fast, and they’re relentless in their full-court pressure. They hassled St. Henry Friday night for four quarters like a house full of in-laws. It took its toll, mentally and physically.
Two, Perry had scouted St. Henry well and found the way to disrupt the Redskins’ offense was to make all-everything guard Mitch Stammen pay for every step he took with the basketball. They doubled him…they tripled him…they “junked defensed” him. Stammen finished with 18 points, but it took him 18 shots to do it. Suffice it to say, he’ll sleep better than Rosenbeck Friday. They wore him out!
Three, Perry found a convenient path to the rim…and they never left it. One back door cut after another, after another. The Commodores took 31 shots from the field Friday night and 24 of them came from 12 feet or less from the rim.
It was 14-13, Perry, at the end of the first quarter and you could sense that Rosenbeck and the Redskins would spend the night counter-punching. Every St. Henry bucket was matched by a race to the other end and an answer.
The half ended 31-26, with St. Henry taking two shots for every one taken by Perry. The ‘Skins were taking jump shots while Perry was shooting layups.
Perry came out in the third and immediately went on a run, extending their lead to 40-30. But gamely, in the span of three possessions Evan Lefeld and Mitch Stammen hit threes, Jesse Niekamp scored off an offensive rebound, and Henry had cut the lead to 2 at the two-minute mark. But they never got closer.
It became emblematic of taking one step forward…and two steps backward.
“We just never got over that hump,” said a dejected Rosenbeck outside his locker room, afterwards. “And they had a lot to do with that. They’re a very, very, very good basketball team. We simply had too many breakdowns…and they got too many layups.”
To give you an idea…..
Perry finished shooting an incredible 22 of 31 from the field…70% field goal efficiency. You don’t beat teams that shoot 70%.
Conversely, St. Henry 18 of their 51 attempts for 35%. The issue was trading jump shots for shots at point-blank range from the basket. St. Henry took 24 three-point attempts and hit six. Perry took 4 and hit one.
“It was frustrating,” admitted Rosenbeck. “The back door cuts were a result of our inability to get help (defense) in the proper positions. Their athleticism had a lot to do with that, but we just had too many breakdowns, for whatever reason. It just wasn’t our night.”
No, it wasn’t their night. Five times in the second half St. Henry had a chance to tie or take the lead, only to miss a jump shot…or to hit one and have Perry streak to the other end and answer. One step forward…and two steps back.
But not for a lack of gameliness, and effort. Jesse Niekamp battled under the rim all night and came away with a team-high 19 points. Stammen finished with 18; and Evan Lefeld, the super shooter off the bench for so many nights hit 4 three-pointers in eleven attempts Friday to finish with 12 points. The three combined for 49 of St. Henry’s 51 points. The lone remaining points belonged to Blake Hoying.
Perry got balanced scoring, and likewise three in double figures. Kobe Glover had 17, Jakoby Harvey had 16, and Orion Monford added 10.
Like his team, Rosenbeck was physically drained by the emotional exertion of coming so close, so many times, and have to regroup for another charge.
“Too many layups,” he repeated. “That was the reason we couldn’t catch ‘em. It just makes it so hard to come back when you can’t defensive stops in the defensive end.”
He made no excuses, and he quickly dismissed any notion of having spent so much emotional and physical energy trying to catch up that there was nothing left with which to surge ahead.
“No, they were the better team tonight and the beat us straight up. Maybe on a different night the result would be different. But we’ll never know.”
St. Henry finished their campaign with a 18-7 mark, losing more than just a basketball game – Stammen, Jesse Niekamp, Evan Lefeld, Paul Stammen, Alex Hartings, and Phil Osterholt will all leave the program when they graduate in May.
“I love them all,” said Rosenbeck.
“They’re the epitome of what your program should be about. Their work ethic, their commitment to each other…they don’t understand now because they’re not old enough now to appreciate how hard they compete, or how well they maximized their talents for the entire season.”