Waskielis finds the basket, Bellevue finds victory over TC

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Columbian’s Riley Sendelbach (left) and Bellevue’s Jake Waskielis battle for a rebound Friday in Bellevue.

BELLEVUE — One way or another, Jake Waskielis found a way to put up points Friday night.

Whether shooting from deep, driving to the basket for a layup, or getting fouled and converting at the line, the Bellevue guard delivered against Columbian. He scored a game-high 22 points, pacing the Redmen in a 61-46 Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division win over the Tornadoes.

Waskielis made six field goals — two 3s — and went 8 of 12 at the stripe as Bellevue improved to 9-8, 4-6 in the conference.

Waskielis was quick to share the credit afterward.

“It’s not really just me,” he said. “My teammates, they’ve been driving and passing the ball and sharing it a lot. I see an open lane and I just take it.”

Bellevue coach Ed Rich said Waskielis has picked up his game recently.

“He’s been doing a much better job these last five games (of) using his strength,” Rich said. “He’s small, but he’s pretty strong, and he’s been using his strength to get to the basket, and make some tough layups.

Bellevue got off to a fast start, forcing Columbian into three straight turnovers to start the game. The Redmen turned those into seven points.

Columbian, backed into a corner, opted to shoot from it. In less than two minutes, Donnell Brockington and LJ Reaves each made a pair of 3-pointers from the right corner. Reaves’ second, which came with 3:47 left, put Columbian up 12-9.

But the lead was short lived. A 3 from Waskielis put Bellevue back in front, 16-14, and the Redmen led 18-14 at the first stop.

In the second quarter, the Redmen dominated, and gave themselves an advantage the Tornadoes never overcame.

Bellevue outscored the Tornadoes 16-4 during the eight minute stretch, and went to the break up 34-18. Columbian made just 2 of 8 field goal attempts in the period, and was 0 of 6 from 3-point range. It also turned the ball over seven times.

“The second quarter definitely got us,” said Columbian coach Travis Kinn. “The difference in the game was 15 (points), so if you look at that, the second quarter was the difference in the game. It’s really important we play with that focus and that effort that’s needed for 32 minutes.”

The Tornadoes came in short handed. Three of their players were out due to illness. Still, they made things interesting in the third quarter. Tyrin Smith delivered a pair of and-ones, and grabbed three rebounds as Columbian went on a 9-0 run. When Smith delivered a three-point play with 50 seconds left, the Tornadoes were down only 40-32. They trailed 43-35 after three.

“Tyrin did a nice job of finishing around the rim,” Kinn said. “Our guards, I thought, did a good job of finding him, creating some easy baskets. We thought our post play was something we could try to exploit tonight, and Tyrin’s done a great job of maintaining a positive attitude each day and showing up to work.”

Smith finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

Rich said Bellevue’s third quarter issues started with defense.

“We weren’t getting back,” he said. “We went back to, ‘we’re gonna gamble, we’re gonna get out of position.’ And we were missing our rotations.”

But in the fourth, Waskielis helped the Redmen to the finish line. He scored seven points, and his layup with 1:25 remaining gave Bellevue an insurmountable 57-44 edge. He did it despite having four fouls; he was one of three Redmen with four.

“It was pretty tough; we’ve got to get all our guys on the same page and slow the pace,” Waskielis said. “Work (the ball) up slowly, work it around, take the open shot and not force anything.”

Waskielis wasn’t the only one who put up big numbers. Trey Ruhlman had 16 points, Caleb Marshall scored 11, and Kayden Vogel added five points and 10 rebounds.

Columbian (3-15, 0-10) got 12 points off the bench from Todd Simonds, 10 points from Reaves and eight from Brockington.