The Root is on fire
By Zach Baker
FOSTORIA – Dust off the cliches.
He was the Root of all Mohawk’s problems.
The Root cause of St. Wendelin’s sectional semifinal win.
The win was Root-ed in his effort.
But whichever line you want to use, it all comes back to the same thing.
St. Wendelin’s Nick Root scored 26 points, including six straight in the fourth quarter, to lead SW to a 53-47 win over Mohawk.
With three minutes left in regulation, the Warriors and Mohawks were tied at 39. St. Wendelin’s Brady Rutter got open in the left corner and buried a 3.
Then Root took over. He scored on a layup, a stickback and then added a pair of free throws, part of a 9-2 run that put the Mohawks up, 48-41 with 39 seconds left.
“He’s quick with the basketball and he can get to the rim,” St. Wendelin coach Jim Rutter said. “He can get to the rim and he can create things. He hit a few shots from the outside – he had three 3s tonight – so when he hits some 3s out there, it’s to the point where they’ve got to come out and extend the defense just a little bit.”
Root said the key to the late run was up front.
“We had to crash the boards more,” said Root, who had three of his five rebounds in the fourth quarter. “Work inside.”
St. Wendelin had a big advantage in rebounding, winning the category 28-16. St. Wendelin’s Gabe Walters had 11 boards to go with six points.
“He was one of the top rebounders in the league,” Rutter said. “He works so hard in there all the time. He’s one of the kids where, he never takes a play off.”
Mohawk had a good start, taking a 17-9 lead on a Hunter Fitschen 3 in the second quarter. But SW answered with a 14-4 run to close the half, taking a 23-21 advantage when Root nailed a deep 3 at the buzzer.
The game remained close from there, until the final minutes of regulation.
Mohawk coach Michael Mathey said his Warriors had their chances
“I thought we played well enough to win the whole game,” Mathey said. “There were a couple of loose balls down the stretch that we didn’t come up with, and that’s the difference between winning and losing. We come up with those loose balls, who knows?”
Juston Morter led the Warriors (3-20) with 18 points off the bench.
“He’s gonna be a good player,” Mathey said of the sophomore. “We’re expecting some big things from him; we groomed him a little bit this year. Started him off on JV, and moved to varsity when I thought he was ready. Tonight he showed he was ready.”
Fitschen finished with three 3-pointers and 12 points for the Warriors.
Rutter, who hit two key 3s for St. Wendelin, finished with nine points.
The Mohawks (11-12) will play Old Fort in the sectional finals here at 6:15 p.m. Friday.
The Stockaders beat St. Wendelin 90-46 Feb. 12.