VAN WERT — St. Marys junior center Quinn Zaerr controlled everything inside the paint on Friday as he put up 28 points and 11 rebounds, but Van Wert padlocked the perimeter defensively in its 60-51 victory over the Roughriders in the Western Buckeye League and regular season finale.
Zaerr’s career night wasn’t enough to keep up with an energized Van Wert team that spit fire after losing back-to-back games last weekend to Wapakoneta and Delphos Jefferson.
St. Marys (10-12, 3-6 WBL) went 0 for 13 from 3-point range while shooting 55 percent inside the arc.
“They were in our face,” St. Marys head coach Dan Hegemier said. “In the first half, we were pushing three’s up and they weren’t dropping. They spread it out and didn’t let our 3-point shooters shoot and we were really timid moving without the ball.”
Zaerr did his part, overpowering the smaller Cougars inside and grabbing seven offensive rebounds.
“In the second half we told the guys we have to go inside,” Hegemier said. “ We scored points, but they just kept dropping shots...It’s loose balls. Shots aren’t falling. It’s all those little things that are just killing us.”
Van Wert (10-12, 3-6 WBL) scored both inside and outside, putting four players in double figures. Nathan Stoller came off the bench for the Cougars and knocked down three 3-pointers. He scored a team-high 14 points. Kyle Keber and Matt Bidlack each scored 13 points and Connor Holliday had 11 points.
Stoller’s hot shooting helped the Cougars drain 8 of the first 11 treys they took. Van Wert finished the game 8 of 14 (67 percent) from long distance. The Cougars shot 57 percent from the floor on 20 of 35 shooting.
“They shot the ball very well for three quarters,” Hegemier said. “I’ve watched them play, but they haven’t shot like that.”
Marquis Wilson added nine points for St. Marys and was part of the Riders’ good start to the game.
St. Marys will face a suddenly hot Shawnee team that has won two straight after snapping a seven-game losing streak last week. Shawnee has a regular season game against Marion Local scheduled for Saturday night. Shawnee won the regular season match-up against St. Marys on Dec. 13 62-49.
“They’re a lot better team and we’re a lot better since that first game,” Hegemier said.