St. Marys turns up defense, rallies past Minster 48-44

MINSTER —  St. Marys’ defensive intensity went from lax to suffocating and the result of all the diving on the floor, quick hands in the passing lanes and runout baskets was a comeback 48-44 win at Minster to finish off  a weekend sweep for the Roughriders.

Marquis Wilson and Quinn Zaerr had 10 points apiece for the Roughriders, who improved to 9-10. Derek Jay added nine points with a trio of 3-pointers, including a key one at the buzzer that gave the Riders a 36-35 win to end the third quarter that helped spark a big second half that welcomed Dan Hegemier back to the bench.

“It’s a good, hard-fought win and it shows these kids have heart,” Hegemier said. “Because last night they had to played a very emotional game. Then to get on the bus, go on the road and down 10 at one time and come back, start fighting, start clawing to win, that’s a good sign. I love it. I don’t care about the stats. I loved this win.”

Minster let a lead that reached 10 points twice in the second quarter to slip away as turnovers and 30-percent shooting in the second half undermined a strong first-half effort that saw the Wildcats shoot 54 percent from the floor and score only 15 points.

“It unraveled. That’s a good word for it,” Minster head coach Mike Lee said. “It was just the pressure. They got after us much harder and we wilted under it. We had four or five turnovers at the half and ended up with 15 of them. A game that’s slow and not many possessions, that’s critical.”

Hegemier returned for Saturday night’s game after driving to North Carolina for the birth of his grandson. The Riders picked up a 48-41 win over rival Wapakoneta in that one and won another halfcourt battle.

“If we had lost this game, I would’ve fired myself,” Hegemier said. “Tony Arling, Sam Hinker and Mac Peterson all did a great job last night. It really bothered me not being there, but you have to loyalties some other place sometimes. We texted back and forth throughout the entire game and then I got up at 4:42 this morning to get here. I’m glad no state trooper got me.”

St. Marys turned the ball over just five times.

Minster’s Eli Wolf had a big night, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Wolf’s 10-foot jumper off glass gave Minster a 29-19 lead midway through the second. The Wildcats led 29-23 at the half and appeared to be in good shape.

St. Marys hosts defending state champion Ottawa-Glandorf on Friday night at 6 p.m. and then hosts McComb on Saturday at 6 p.m.

The Roughriders found out their sectional semifinal opponent on Sunday. St. Marys will face Shawnee onTuesday, Feb. 25 at Lima Senior at 6:15 p.m. The winner gets top-seeded Elida on Friday, Feb. 28 at 6:15 p.m. at Lima Senior.