UTICA — The Utica Redskins trailed 27-11 at the break, and were never able to recover, allowing the Watkins Memorial Warriors to score 20 in the third and march to a 56-31 win in Utica on Tuesday.
“We got off to a bad start,” Utica coach Brian Radabaugh said. “We shot it poorly. I think some of that was a result of our bad shot selection. We just never really got into a flow.”
Both teams traded buckets to open the contest, but Watkins Memorial soon was able to get to the bucket. Marcus Peaks scored four and Reece McNeely hit a deep shot for the visitors in the opening period, which saw all five Warrior starters score. Dakota Woodard did hit a three in the first, but the Redskins were down 13-5 after the first.
McNeely really caught fire in the second quarter, draining another two 3-pointers to lead Watkins Memorial to 14 in the second. Brock Pfister hit a pair of shots for Utica in the second, but the home team was outscored 14-6 to head into the locker room down 27-11.
“Once the second quarter came around, we had trouble getting stops,” Radabaugh said. “We didn’t get any offensive rebounds so we didn’t get any second-chance opportunities. We didn’t get any turnovers to go out and get an easy one and we shot only one free throw. We had to work exceptionally hard for everything we got.”
Returning to the floor, the Warriors continued their quick play, exploding for 20 points in the third, with Bryce Small, McNeely and Peaks turning in seven, five and four points, respectively. Four Redskins scored in the period but the team still went into the final quarter behind 37-18. In the fourth, Utica used scoring from five players, with four points from Collin McCullough, to outscore Watkins 13-9, but it wasn’t enough late.
The glass was unfavorable to the Redskins Tuesday, with the Warriors hauling in 27 boards to 20 for Utica.
“We have struggled for about three weeks now rebounding the basketball,” Radabaugh said. “It’s been a point of emphasis and we are continuing to work at it. It’s something we have got to fix.”
McNeely used four treys to notch a game-high 14 points, to go along with four rebounds and two assists. Small racked up 13 points, three rebound and three steals, while Peaks chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Dylan Wilson had five points, while Caleb Bodin and Ike Disbennett had four apiece. Ethan Stearns and Malachi Dewhurst hit a bucket apiece.
McCullough and Woodard led the way for the Redskins with six points apiece, combining for five rebounds, two dimes and two steals. A trio of Redskins, Pfister, Mason Mueller and Corbin Wygle, all had four points apiece. Gabe Kegler led the team with seven rebounds and was one of several sophomores to get solid time on the floor Tuesday.
“We’ve had to count on a lot of young guys this year and they’ve gotten really valuable experience,” Radabaugh said. “They’re learning. We’ve got a good group of sophomores and they’re eager to learn. They play with good effort and they’re trying to find their way and figure things out.”
Utica dropped to 2-15 on the year. The Redskins return to action Friday in a home bout against Licking County League foe Northridge. JV action tips off at 6 p.m.
“Just get better everyday,” Radabaugh said of the team’s goals. “That’s been our goal from the first practice. We just want to leave every day better than we were the day before.”
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