By ANDY WOLF
for the courier
FOSTORIA — St. Wendelin blew open a tightly contested battle with consecutive displays of teamwork to generate clutch scores.
The Mohawks also scored the final 11 points of the game in the final three minutes to slide past Vanlue 54-42 Monday night in nonconference play.
With St. Wendelin trailing 40-39, senior guard Nick Root stripped the ball away and went coast to coast to give the Mohawks (8-10) a 41-40 led with three minutes remaining.
“We were moving the ball better and getting better looks. We needed to pick it up and play a defensive game the rest of the way,” Root said.
Root soon forced another turnover at half court and dished off, over his shoulder as he was falling backward to the floor, to teammate Gabe Walters.
“Root probably played his most complete game of the year,” St. Wendelin coach Jim Rutter said. “He played under control and didn’t get rushed.
“We’re getting much better ball movement, and it helps having more players to go to,” said Rutter, whose club has battled injuries this season.
After Nick Hagerty answered Root with a score for Vanlue, Walters assisted Peter Campbell to the hoop just six seconds later.
A few minutes later, Root fired a pass into the paint to Brady Rutter, who converted the easy lay-in, giving the Mohawks a 47-42 lead with just one minute to play.
Root finished with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals while only committing one turnover.
“We needed to take the ball up and down the floor and take care of it,” Root said. “We made a couple buckets, got our confidence back up and made some defensive stops.”
Walters led the Mohawks with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Peter Campbell totaled 11 points and six rebounds.
Donovan Scudder added eight points off the bench, nailing both of his 3-point attempts, his last cutting Vanlue’s lead to 40-39 in the fourth quarter.
“Scudder is an outside shooting threat with good basketball instincts. After not having him for some of the year (injury) he now gives us a different dimension,” Jim Rutter said.
The Wildcats led 34-32 after three quarters, getting 10 points from Austin Smith in the third.
Smith and Hagerty each finished with 15 points but combined to shoot just 4 for 16 from beyond the arc.
“We have a difficulty getting the ball inside against some teams,” Vanlue coach Dean Birchmeier said. “The outside shot isn’t our first choice, but it was there.”
Vanlue opened the game with a 9-0 run but fell behind at halftime 21-18 by only scoring four points in the second quarter.
The Wildcats shot 34 percent (16 for 47) from the field and were outrebounded 30-22.
“The turnovers we made in the fourth quarter turned the game. We need to limit those and get to the free throw-line more,” Birchmeier said.
Hagerty 5-4–15, Smith 6-0–15, Coldren 3-0–6, Wagner 2-0–6, Huston 0-0–0, Hendricks 0-0–0. TOTALS: 16-47 4-10 — 42.
ST. Wendelinn (8-10)
Wlters 7-1–15, Root 4-3–12, Campbell 4-2–11, Schetter 1-0–2, Murray 0-0–0, Rutter 1-0–2, Frankart 2-0–4, Scudder 3-0–8, . TOTALS: 22-44 6-16 — 54.
Vanlue 14 4 16 8 — 42
St. Wendelin 10 11 11 22 — 54
3-Point GOALS: Vanlue 6-25 (Smith 3, Wagner 2, Hagerty); St. Wendelin 4-11 (Scudder 2, Root, Campbell.
REBOUNDS: Vanlue 22 (Hagerty, Coldren 8); St. Wendelin 30 (Walters 11).
TURNOVERS: Vanlue 16; St. Wendelin 14.
JUNIOR VARSITY: St. Wendelin, 44-10,.
By ANDY WOLF