Riders Break Losing Skid To Celina

Above: The St. Marys bench, junior varsity players and fans react when the buzzer sounded and the Roughriders defeated Celina, 56-47, in a Western Buckeye League boys basketball game on Friday at Memorial High School
Jake Dowling
Sports Editor

How sweet it is.

It has been 13 years since a St. Marys boys basketball team had beaten Celina.

In a span of those 13 years, there have been three different U.S. presidents, a span of 4,438 days passed by and 12 straight losses to the Carp.

But not on this night.


In control the entire game, the Roughriders exorcised a long-standing demon in defeating the Bulldogs, 56-47 Friday in a Western Buckeye League match at Memorial High School.

“I told them how proud I am of them,” an emotional Roughriders coach Craig Szymczak said. “With Celina coming over, all this stuff, 12 games, they are incredible kids and I think this game is important. It is turning our program around, seeing the way they acted out there ... it’s emotional.”

The last time a St. Marys boys basketball team defeated Celina was Dec. 16, 2005, 13 years and 12 head-to-head games ago, and after coming so close in last season’s 48-45 defeat and frustratingly close losses in other games this season, the Roughriders won yet another close game — their second in a row after a win against Bath last week.

St. Marys trailed in the early minutes of Friday’s contest with Celina scoring its first six points courtesy of Kole Murlin, but that was it, as the Roughriders shot a season-best 57.1 percent from the floor, including a 53 percent clip in the second half.

The Riders relied on 3-point shooting from seniors Austin Wilker and Ethan Mielke to spring St. Marys to a 13-8 first-quarter lead.

Then the defense got involved, limiting the Bulldogs to six points with Murlin sitting out with two fouls in the second quarter and forcing Celina to settle for a 22 percent shooting pace in the first half to help the Roughriders jump out to a 24-14 halftime lead.

The Roughriders defense limited Celina to 38 percent shooting in the second half. And with the insertion of Bo Kuenning to matchup with Murlin, the Bulldogs’ senior was held in check as he mustered just seven points the rest of the game compared to his six points in the first quarter alone.

The closest the Bulldogs got to the Riders was within four, down 49-45 with 2:23 left in the fourth quarter, but Celina missed its next four shots from the floor and finished the game 1-of-6 with a turnover in that final 2:23, while St. Marys finished 7-of-9 from the free throw line in the final 1:47.

For the full story, see Saturday's print edition of The Evening Leader.