|Blue Jays fall to Bulldogs in delayed season-opener|
|Tuesday, December 17, 2013 9:44 PM|
By LARRY HEIING
That’s how long it’s been since St. John’s lost a heart-breaker to Troy Christian in the Division IV Regional finals last March.
Gone from that team are Curtis Geise, Seth Bockey, Cole Fischbach and Ryan Buescher.
Blue Jay head coach Aaron Elwer stated “that he had too many unknowns” going into the season-opening game Tuesday against long-time archrival Elida at Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium. “This is only our 13th day together,” Elwer due said to another long playoff run by the Blue Jay football team.
The host Blue Jays fell in their delayed opener 52-40.
Elida got on the board first with a quick goal by senior Louis Gray. St. John’s answered when junior Andy Grothouse made a beautiful pass inside to junior Tyler Conley for the first bucket of the season. Ryan Koester hit a 3-pointer after an Elida miss. Elida responded with an alley-oop pass from Marquevious Wilson to Purdue-bound senior Dakota Mathias to cut the Jay lead to one. Elida took the lead on a bank shot from Gray. Mathias connected from the corner and Koester’s banker kept the difference at one. After a traveling call on Mathias, both teams traded turnovers in between baskets. Grothouse drained a 3-pointer and Eric Clark hit an 8-footer from the left side before the buzzer to tie the score at 12.
The second-quarter scoring got started with Mathias nailing a pullup jumper at the 6:20 mark for a 2-point Elida Lead. After a Delphos miss, Clark stole the ball and scored on a layup to knot the game at 14. The Bulldogs then began to drive the ball inside with buckets by Austin Allemeier and Wilson. The Blue Jays scored with a driving bucket in the lane by Clark. Wilson scored for Elida and was fouled. He missed the free throw. Koester was fouled while shooting and converted a pair of free thows to make the score 20-18 with 2:10 remaining in the half. Grothouse scored inside after a nice assist from Clark to tie the score at 20. The Bulldogs made the last five of the half with a bucket by Gray, then Mathias showed why he was highly recruited by many Division 1 college programs, nailing a long three beyond the top of the key.
The Bulldogs took control of the game to start the second half with a three by Allemeier from the corner. After a St. John’s miss, Mathias converted one of two foul shots. After a St. John’s turnover, coach Elwer called a timeout with 6:16 left in the third period. After the break, Elida’s Max Stambaugh was fouled and converted a free throw for a 10-point lead. Koester nailed another3-pointer to cut the lead back to seven. Koester then stole the ball from Elida but his 3-pointer fell off the rim. Grothouse was there for the offensive rebound and his putback put the Jays within five.
That’s as close as the Jays would get as the Bulldogs began to pull away. Mathias made a 3-point play, making a bucket and converting the free throw after being fouled. Allemeier drained a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 11. Conley scored on the in-bound play by the Jays to bring the lead back to single digits.
Following a miss by Elida, Clark was fouled putting the blue and yellow in the bonus. Clark made one of two free throws to make the score 36-28. Mathias made another bucket to end the third for a 10-point lead.
Koester got the Jays going to start the fourth as he made a short jumper. Following a missed free throw, Grothouse drained a bucket to cut the lead to six points. Elida’s Wilson was uncontested to hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead back to nine. The Blue Jays missed on their next offensive opportunity but Clark’s steal and drive of the entire court for the bucket made the score 41-34. Gray then put the game away for Elida, hitting a 5-foot turnaround jumper, then connected on a 3-pointer for an 11-point lead.
The Blue Jays then tried a full-court press but Elida spread the court and forced the home team to foul the rest of the game. Elida converted from the charity stripe to keep the lead safe and made the short trip back home with a 52-40 victory.
After the game, Coach Elwer said that he saw many positive things from his young squad: “Facing Mathias and Elida is a tough way to start the season but I was pleased with our effort. The errors we made tonight were magnified by a good team like Elida.”
On the boards, the Bulldogs outrebounded the Jays 23-19. In the shooting department, Elida made 20 out of 37 for 54 percent. Tough man to man defense from Evan Hays held Mathias to 19 points.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays made 15 out 0f 37 for 40 percent and seven of 11 free throws.
In the JV game, the Blue Jays started four freshmen and lost 45-32. The young Jays
were lead by Gage Seffernick’s 10 points.
Next action for the Blue Jays is at home Friday night against Continental. The Bulldogs host Wapak.