|Blue Jays, Lancer boys move on in sectionals|
|Thursday, February 28, 2013 1:30 PM|
The Blue Jays (16-5) advance to Friday night’s 8 p.m. final against Lincolnview (a 50-43 winner over Temple Christian in Wednesday’s second game).
The Musketeers’ season ends at 6-17.
Delphos busted out to an early 14-5 lead but the feisty Musketeers scrapped their way back into it and got within 20-16 on a 3-pointer from the right wing by junior point guard Nick Von Sossan with 7:00 left in the second quarter. That, however, turned out to be the last Fort Jennings point until Von Sossan nailed another trey with 4:50 left in the third quarter to make it 42-19, Jays.
St. John’s led 18-11 after one, 32-16 after two and 50-23 after three.
It certainly wasn’t a matter of the Jays shooting better than the Musketeers but the fact that the blue-and-gold got twice as many shots — hitting 20-of-54 (37%) to Fort Jennings’ 11-of-27 (41%). The large shot discrepancy was due to the number of turnovers — 17 for Jennings, 3 for St. John’s — and rebounds — won by the Jays 29-20. Free throws were not a major factor — Delphos hit 9-of-12 (75%), Fort Jennings 7-of-14 (50%).
Although high-scoring senior Curtis Geise had a cold night from the field — 4-of-14, with all four baskets coming on layups — he ignited the St. John’s offense with outstanding penetration and passing. “It was a night when we missed shots that we’ve been making,” said Blue Jay coach Aaron Elwer. “They were good shots; they were uncontested shots. We just didn’t make ’em. Whether that’s tournament atmosphere on a different floor or … but we’ll get back at that tomorrow in the gym and get a bunch of shots up. We wanted to go inside-outside against their zone and Curt was able to beat them off the dribble and get some other guys some really good looks. Ryan Koester and Eric Clark were able to hit some shots but more than offense, it was our defense: the pressure we put on them, contesting their first shot and limiting them to only one opportunity. I think that was the key to us extending that lead in the second and third quarters.”
The Jays had balanced scoring, led by Koester, Ryan Buescher, Clark and Geise with 16, 13, 11 and eight, respectively.
Brandon Kohli, Von Sossan and Kurt Warnecke had 12, 11 and seven, respectively, for Fort Jennings.
The game ended the high school basketball careers of Musketeer seniors Kohli, Warnecke, Dylan Eldridge and Drew Stechschulte. Senior Chad Recker was a starter whose career was ended by a knee injury earlier in the season.
Earlier this season, Lima Temple Christian defeated Lincolnview in double-overtime. It only took four quarters, however, for the Lancers (10-13) to repay the favor as they beat the Pioneers (16-7) for the second time in as many years in the post-season.
“I’m extremely pleased with our effort. Like I told the kids, we’ve got to win the 50/50 game and I thought we did that. (Temple Christian) is a good team; they were 16-6 coming in and we lost to them in double-overtime (earlier this season). It’s good to get a win; I think it’s going to give our kids some confidence,” said Lancer coach Brett Hammons.
Temple got four points from senior guard Evan Sutton, three from senior guard Justin Kroehler and four from senior center Andrew Rhoad in the opening frame to take an 11-7 lead after a quarter. The quarter was a sign of things to come for the Pioneers as the trio were the only three players to score for LTC.
Lincolnview turned the 4-point deficit into a 26-17 lead by halftime, thanks in large part to seven points from junior forward Conner McCleery and eight from junior guard Kyle Williams.
“I thought we played pretty even in the first quarter. I thought during the second quarter, we took advantage of some things - we got after it,” explained Hammons.
“The Kroehler kid is a really good player,” commented Hammons. “He ended up with 21 points. I thought our kids started to force some things (in the third quarter).
He would make a basket and we would try to get right back at it instead of slowing down and trying to execute our offense.”
The fourth quarter was a different story for the Lancers - and Kroehler. McCleery got four quick points and the Lancers got a layup from senior guard Nick Leeth to stretch their lead back to 44-37. Meanwhile, after hitting his first shot of the quarter, Kroehler went 0-of-5 the rest of the game - all from long-range.
The Pioneers, trailing 46-41, were forced to foul late. The Lancers closed the game by going 5-of-9 from the foul line to hold on for the win.
“We ended up making some plays: we got some stops defensively, made some shots on offense and knocked down some free throws,” Hammons said.
The shooting was relatively even. Lincolnview hit 18-of-43 for 42 percent and Temple Christian managed 17-of-38 for 45 percent, despite only connecting on 3-of-18 from 3-point range.
Williams and McCleery led the charge for the Lancers, with 17 and 15 points, respectively. The Lancer coach pointed to McCleery’s play as a major factor in the win — seven rebounds and going 5-of-7 from the free-throw line.
“He opens thing up for our guards,” explained Hammons. “And when he makes moves (in the post) like that, with the way he rebounds and the way he scores - he knocked down some rebounds; that’s huge for our team and gives us an inside presence that we need.”
Sutton added 14 points and Rhoad eight to round out the Pioneer scoring. Kroehler added eight boards, as did Rhoad.
The Lancer defense forced 16 Temple Christian turnovers, committing only eight of their own, but the Pioneers held an advantage on the glass 22-19.
The Lancers will have another chance to avenge a defeat from the regular season as Lincolnview fell 70-45 to St. John’s (16-5) earlier this season.
“We know what they do. We’ve seen them, we’ve played against them. They have Curtis Geise, who is probably one of the best players in our area. They’re physical, their guards can shoot and they pressure you on defense. We’ve got to be ready for them; we’ve got to come ready to play and execute our game plan,” added Hammons.