Bagley Drains Riders With Late 3

St. Marys’ Ethan Steger leaps to attempt a jump shot in the first quarter of a Western Buckeye League boys basketball game against Van Wert on Friday.
Sports Editor

After making five 3-pointers in the first half, Van Wert missed 11 in the second half as part of its woeful 6-of-26 mark from the floor, but of those six second-half field goals, two won the Cougars the game.

With St. Marys leading 43-38 with 1:24 remaining, the Cougars drained a pair of 3-pointers off a pair of Roughriders’ turnovers to stun St. Marys with a 44-43 Western Buckeye League victory on Friday at Memorial High School.

Friday’s loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Roughriders and served as another example of a Roughriders team who continues to struggle to finish games when they have the lead.

The Roughriders (3-3, 0-2 WBL) called a timeout with possession with 1:34 left in the game and its biggest lead of the second half at 43-38. 

Braeden Dunlap drove to the basket, but lost the ball when he spun to avoid the defender, leading to a miss shot, then rebound for Van Wert (4-4, 1-1) — who then finished the possession with a triple by Nate Place to cut the Roughriders’ lead to 43-41 with 1:05 remaining. 

St. Marys gained possession following Van Wert’s 3-pointer, but Carson Fischbach’s inbound pass was stolen, eventually setting up a 3-pointer by Drew Bagley for the game-winning score with 13.5 seconds left.

Roughriders coach Craig Szymczak called timeout with 11 seconds left. Jack Cisco heaved up a desperation 3-pointer when he had nowhere to go as the ball bricked the back of the hoop to end the game.

“He (Bagley) was hitting those shots in the first half, but coming out in the second half, we told them that those same shots are not going to fall,” Szymczak said. “And the one that did fall in the second half was the big one.

“We played our butts off, we played great defensively — we held them to 16 points in the second half — against a team that was held to 10 or 11 points under their season average. We have an opportunity tomorrow. We just have to get this taste out of mouths and come back and be ready to go.”

Despite Bagley’s hot-cold-and-hot-again evening, the 6-foot-4 senior not only wrecked the Riders’ night, but he was a problem before the half too.

The Cougars nailed five 3-pointers in the first half, with Bagley scoring Van Wert’s final nine points going into the half.

Trailing 18-17 with 3:28 remaining, Bagley gave the Cougars the lead with his first 3-pointer at the 3:08 mark following a St. Marys’ turnover. Bagely then drained his second 3-pointer as part of a 6-0 Van Wert run and a 23-18 lead. Dunlap’s drive-in bucket ended the Cougars’ run, but Bagley had the final say with a 3-pointer with 06.3 seconds left to give the Cougars a 26-20 halftime lead.

Van Wert finished 7-of-18 from the 3-point line for the game, but just 2-of-13 in the second half.

For St. Marys, however, it’s another disappointing loss in a game it led late.

The Roughriders were outscored 372-321 in the fourth quarter of games last season — losing in seven games that potentially could have been wins. After the second-half outscoring that ended in a loss against Coldwater two weeks ago, it looked as if the Riders had turned the corner after hanging on in the fourth quarter against Parkway, but Friday’s defeat showed the same issues St. Marys dealt with last year.

The Roughriders’ first lead of the evening came on a reverse layup by Fischbach with 1:30 left in the opening quarter — overcoming Van Wert’s pair of 3-pointers by Place — and ended the first quarter with a 13-12 lead.

The Cougars did not regain the lead until Bagley’s first of three treys in the second quarter, but St. Marys regained the lead with 2:37 left in the third quarter on a bucket and 3-pointer by Mielke and one of two free throws by Fischbach. A triple by Fischbach concluded an 8-2 run for St. Marys to lead 33-30 heading into the final quarter.

Mielke had his best game of the season with a team-high 18 points, including clutch shots in the third quarter — his fad away two just above the free throw line to pull within one and his 3-pointer to tied the game at 28-28 with 3:48 left in the quarter.