|Jefferson boys grind out NWC win|
|Friday, February 21, 2014 9:38 PM|
DELPHOS — Jefferson’s boys basketball team has had to play a number of “grinder” games this 2013-14 season.
Friday night was no exception as Bluffton came to “The Stage” of Jefferson Middle School and put the Wildcats through another wringer.
The hosts put together a strong finish — 14-6 — and used stellar free-throw shooting (a torrid 22-of-24 for 91.7%) to finally subdue the Pirates 56-49 in Northwest Conference action.
“Bluffton is a pain in the rear to play; every year, they get us into this type of game. Coach (Todd) Boblitt and his staff prepare their kids well and they are so disciplined,” Jefferson coach Marc Smith noted. “They force you to make 1-on-1 plays and they give you nothing easy. As far as free throws go, I am not surprised; this is not bragging or anything but we shoot 76 percent as a team.”
Wildcat sophomore Dalton Hicks returned form an extended layoff due to an injury but played only a short time.
The Wildcats (13-8, 3-5 NWC) led 42-36 to commence the finale but went through a scoring drought — the first 4:54 of the fourth — as the Pirates (9-13, 2-6) grabbed their last lead of 43-42 on a steal and layin by Austin Bricker at 3:57. The Wildcats, who had missed their first five shots from the field in the period and turned it over three times (14 total), finally broke that drought on a layin by sophomore Trey Smith (14 counters, 6 boards) — courtesy of a mid-court diving steal and lead pass by freshman Jace Stockwell (7 markers, 5 assists, 3 thefts, 3 boards). The Wildcats then took advantage of Bluffton’s foul troubles (21 for the game versus 9 for Delphos). Stockwell hit both ends Of the bonus at 2:45, starting a 10-of-10 trek to the line: senior Ross Thompson (15 counters, 12 rebounds, 4 thefts) hit four and added the final fielder to lead the way. Bluffton could only manage triples by Bret Rumer (8 points) at 1:16 and Noah Stratton (9 counters, 3 dimes) at 30 ticks.
“We had the game where we wanted, then let it get away from us. Our stat people had us for 16 turnovers and they scored 16 points off that; there’s the game,” Pirate coach Todd Boblitt acknowledged. “Our turnovers were live-ball, which led to transition baskets. They made plays, especially down the stretch, and we didn’t; we put them at the line too much all game long and they were exceptional from the line.”
Defense was going to rule the day from the start, both teams employing tough man-to-man schemes that made it tough to get much going offensively. Boblitt wanted a slower tempo and got it, especially stymieing Jefferson’s top two scorers: Smith and Thompson (2 each). Despite Smith’s two free throws at 3.6 ticks, Bluffton led 12-11 at the end of one.
The Wildcats used 5-of-6 foul shots in the period to stay close as they were in the 1-and-1 to start the second.
Smith picked up his second offensive foul of the half at 6:18 and went to the bench. However, senior Tyler Rice (10 markers, 7 caroms), installed into the starting lineup, picked up the slack with a pair of 3-pointers as the Wildcats worked their way to a 22-19 edge on his second bomb at 1:18. Joel Siefker tied it 22-all with his triple from the right wing at 50 ticks.
The tempo continued slow in the third, with two ties and one lead change, until Jefferson went to a 1-2-2 3/4-court press at the 6-minute mark. That forced five Bluffton miscues in that span (16 overall), leading to a 16-7 run that was capped by a Smith (10 counters in the stanza) transition reverse layin at 22 ticks for a 42-34 edge. When Levi Kistler (12 points, 4 boards) hit a left-elbow jumper at 7.1 ticks, it as 42-36, Jefferson.
Bluffton netted 19-of-47 shots, 7-of-19 trifectas, for 40.4 percent and 4-of-6 foul shots (66.7%); and secured 25 rebounds (5 offensive) as Trent Phillips had six and Mitchell Ault (3 assists) four.
Jefferson notched 15-of-41 fielders, 4-of-17 triples, for 36.6 percent; and 29 off the glass (6 offensive).
“That zone really helped us get some easier looks. It changed the tempo and forced them to go faster,” Coach Smith added. “That gave us a cushion. They did come back but they were battling uphill from that point on. Our kids — again — had to find a way to win a tough battle. We told them at the half — all year, actually — to play through contact and not worry about fouls; if they are called, they are.”
In junior varsity action, Bluffton grabbed a 48-35 triumph.
Leading the victors were Braden Skilliter with 13 and Eli Runk 10.
For the Wildcats (12-9, 2-6), Ryan Goergens dropped in nine and Grant Wallace eight.
Jefferson visits Antwerp this evening, while Bluffton begins Division III sectional play Tuesday versus Fairview at Defiance.
Austin Bricker 1-0-2, Noah Stratton 4-0-9, Trent Phillips 1-0-3, Levi Kistler 6-1-15, Mitchell Ault 1-0-2, Braden Skilliter 0-0-0, Bret Rumer 3-0-8, Jordan Skilliter 1-3-5, Joel Siefker 1-0-3, Brady Parkins 1-0-2. Totals 12-7-4-49.
Jace Stockwell 2-2-7, Austin Jettinghoff 2-2-7, Ross Thompson 4-7-15, Trey Smith 4-6-14, Tyler Mox 0-3-3, Dalton Hicks 0-0-0, Tyler Rice 3-2-10. Totals 11-4-22-56.
Score by Quarters:
Bluffton 12 10 14 13 - 49
Jefferson 11 11 20 14 - 56
Three-point goals: Bluffton, Kistler 2, Rumer 2, Stratton, Phillips, Siefker; Jefferson, Rice 2, Jettinghoff, Stockwell.
Braden Skilliter 6-1-13, Joseph Schriner 3-0-6, Eli Runk 4-2-10, Joel Siefker 2-2-6, Nick Swisher 2-0-4, Chris Justus 0-0-0, Galen Denecker 0-1-1, Conner Danson 3-2-8. Totals 20-0-8/10-48.
Drew Reiss 3-1-7, Josh Teman 2-2-7, Cole Arroyo 0-0-0, Alex Neubert 0-0-0, Ryan Wittler 0-0-0, Ryan Goergens 4-0-9, Kyle Wreede 0-0-0, Brandan Herron 0-0-0, Christian Stemen 0-0-0, Grant Wallace 3-2-8, Austin Blanton 0-0-0, Nick Long 1-0-2, Drake Schmitt 1-0-2. Totals 12-2-5/13-35.
Score by Quarters:
Bluffton 10 18 11 9 - 48
Jefferson 5 8 10 12 - 35
Three-point goals: Bluffton, none; Jefferson, Teman, Goergens.
|Last Updated on Friday, February 21, 2014 9:43 PM|