They had balanced scoring, and held Waynesfield-Goshen under 40 points. And yet, Eric Rosenbeck believes that the St. Henry Redskins can (and need to) play better.
Coldwater – For some reason, no one really knows, the St. Henry Redskins seem to play well in Coldwater’s beautiful ‘Palace’ gymnasium.
As a witness, the last three times I’ve seen them personally on the ‘Palace’ court, they scored impressive wins – the latest a 72-37 message over 2-19 Waynesfield-Goshen Tuesday night to open Division IV sectional play.
It wasn’t a memorable game, or an eye-opening exhibition of hitting on all cylinders. It was workman-like, by description, a game that St. Henry should have won, and won in decisive manner. Goshen, playing out of the NWCC conference with Lima Perry, Upper Scioto, Lehman, and Riverside, had struggled all year. But starting the “second season”, Coach Eric Rosenbeck wanted a complete performance – a message performance – as an indication to teams ahead in their bracket that St. Henry (13-9) would indeed be a tough out. They probably did enough to send that message.
They put points on the board early, leading 18-14 after one quarter, but more importantly, the ‘Skins got a number of scorers involved. They moved the ball well in their half-court offense, crisp and decisive, and got into the lane and to the rim.
But Goshen answered, getting their early points on three-pointers from Kale Kaufman, Jarrod Bly, and Jaden Maxwell. The break between quarters turned out to be the turning point in the game.
St. Henry came out in the second to go on an 18-3 run, clamped down on easy looks the Tigers were getting courtesy of St. Henry’s full court defense…and simply shut the door on any hopes the Tigers had in pulling off a surprise win. Leading 36-17 at the half, the Redskins were never threatened in the second half.
“We got to the rim, but I was most pleased with our offensive rebounding,” said Eric Rosenbeck, afterwards. “When we did miss shots we got our hands on the ball to give ourselves a second opportunity.
“Offensively, there some things we can do to clean things up, but we attacked the rim and attacked the glass. That was a huge positive for us.”
Goshen, however, earned the respect of Rosenbeck in the third quarter, refusing to succumb to the large deficit, and actually played to a 12-11 margin for the period.
“They gave us a good challenge,” added Rosenbeck. “We were glad to play, to get on the floor, but I thought their kids played hard. There were some fundamental things (mistakes) that they caused that I was frustrated with and we’ll have to address that tomorrow at practice. That’s the never-ending learning phase.”
Owing to their ball movement, owing to the athleticism of the possibly-taken-for-granted Redskins, they won with their second quarter defense…and with balanced, double-digit scoring among their three top guns. Tyler Schlarman (5 of 7 from the floor), Caden Niekamp (5 of 8) and Ryan Luttmner (4 of 9) scored 13, 13 and 12 points, respectively.
“With Caden (Niekamp, 6’4” 260 lbs.) in the post it opens up things for the rest of the shooters and we’ve got guys out there who can shoot the three,” said Schlarman. “I give it up to my teammates. They helped open things up to make it happen.”
38 points between the top three scorers is more than enough to send a message to Upper Scioto Valley, who now awaits St. Henry in their bracket.
“We all knocked down some shots, but we’ve played here quite a bit,” Schlarman added. “We’ve all played here from junior high to the varsity level so I guess we’re pretty comfortable with it. Some gyms are that way. I personally don’t like to play in Recovery’s gym, but some have a background that just feels better. Others don’t.”
In all, ten different Redskins scored, they shot 26 of 51 from the field (51%), 7 of 21 from three-point range (33%), and cashed 13 of 19 free throw attempts (68%). As to Rosenbeck’s content over rebounding, the Redskins finished with a commanding 38-13 overall advantage on the boards; and 15-3 of the offensive variety.
For Goshen, Kale Kaufman led them in scoring with 10, while as a team the Tigers shot 14 of 37 from the floor (37%), 5 of 13 from three-point range (38%), and hit 4 of 9 free throw attempts (44%)
St. Henry, the #4 seed, will move on to meet the #3 seed Upper Scioto on March 3, again at Coldwater, scheduled for 6:15 pm.
As to the familiarity, and the comfort of playing just seven minutes away from home, as Eric Rosenbeck put it, he likes any advantage available going forward.
“We’ve had success here,” smiled Rosenbeck. “It’s just seven minutes, door to door, from our place to here. We’ve beat Coldwater here a few times. We’ve won some sectional titles here. So it just comes down to the kids and their executing.
“I think we’re going to be challenged immensely going forward because Upper Scioto has a couple of good shooters and a solid point guard. They’ve got some size on the front line so we’ll have to play better basketball if we’re going to come out of here sectional champs.”
There’s some “coach speak” there, of course, but with his pedigree Rosenbeck and the Redskins take nothing for granted, and come by it honestly. In truth, though, they played well; and better than a 13-9 record might indicate thanks to a steady regular season diet of Versailles, Recovery, Minster, and Marion.
Future opponents, you’re on your own. MAC-hardened, you’ll have to beat ‘em in the ‘Palace’…to keep St. Henry from winning a sectional title!
In the second game of Tuesday’s Division IV bracket at Coldwater, New Bremen upended Ada, 65-31, to advance to play Ft. Recovery in the 8 pm game at Coldwater.