TOLEDO — St. John’s needed a player to step up and make a big play in the fourth period against Mansfield St. Peter’s.
They found two.
Owen Rode scored eight points in the final quarter and junior Collin
Will had two huge 3-pointers to help the Blue Jays seize a 44-43 victory
in the Division IV Regional finals inside John F. Savage Arena at the
University of Toledo.
“I went as a player in 1998 and when I came
back to St. John’s 10 years ago, that was my goal to get us back. It’s a
lot more stressful as a coach” St. John’s head coach Aaron Elwer said
following the game.
The Jays (21-4) advance to the Jerome A. Schottenstein Center at Ohio State University at 5:15 p.m. Thursday.
John’s trailed 32-28 to begin the fourth and slowly closed within 33-32
on a basket by Rode, who finished with 16 points, at 6:03. The Spartans
claimed a 35-32 edge on a Mason Campbell jumper, only to see the Jays
tie it on a Will’s first 3-pointer from the right side at 3:40.
Mansfield went up on a Campbell 17-footer, Will struck for a 3-ball
from the other wing for a 38-37 edge. Jared Jakubick gave the Spartans a
39-38 edge on a drive at 2:36, but Rode nailed two foul shots at 1:44
for a 40-39 edge.
The Jays got the lead to 42-39 on two more Rode
free throws and after Mansfield downed 2-of-5 foul shots to get within
42-41. After missed free throw opportunities on both ends, Jared Wurst
hit a pair of foul shots for a 44-41 edge with 12 seconds left. Jakubick
missed a shot and put in a follow at 0:01 but with no timeouts, time
“We had the game plan and stuck to it. We all have the
green light,” Rode said. “Coach Elwer says we are as unselfish a group
as he’s had. When we needed someone to step up, it’s up to any one of us
to do it and tonight it was Collin and me. Coach is confident in all of
us to do that. It’s great to be going to State; I can’t wait to get
“The shooting background here is a lot different than
we’re used to but our student body and fans have been great supporting
us all season,” Will said. “My first two shots didn’t go, so I just had
to focus more on the rim and be confident. It’s great to be part of
Coach Elwer’s first State semifinal after he got to the finals as a
The Blue Jays sought to use the size advantage they had
inside with 6-8 senior Tim Kreeger and he was effective, finishing with
12 points and 12 boards, despite the sagging man-to-man of the Spartans.
On the other end, Mansfield tried to spread the floor out against the
Jays’ man-to-man and use their 1-on-1 abilities to get inside the paint
and to the rim.
In the opening period, the Blue Jays had the
better of their game plan, shooting 5-of-11 from the field and winning
the board battle 10-3. On the other end, Mansfield was 3-of-11. When
Kreeger put back an offensive rebound at 15 seconds - his seventh point
of the period - the Blue Jays led 12-10.
The second period saw the
Spartans have more success breaking down the Blue Jay defense,
especially Tyson Kent’s seven points. They canned 5-of-10 shots to the
Jays’ 3-of-9 and they did a better job of staying even on the glass.
When Campbell dropped in an and-1 at 1:00, their halftime lead stood at
“We were fortunate they missed some free throws late; they
are an outstanding shooting team. Perhaps we are a team of destiny with
that,” Elwer said. “We needed someone to make a shot other than Tim
because of the way they were defending him, and Owen and Collin were the
two tonight; it could be anyone. Defensively, I felt that our better
depth may have finally gotten to them over 32 minutes and maybe that is
one reason they missed those free throws.”
The third period saw
the pace slow down in the early part, with Mansfield even turning to a
version of the Four Corners offense for a spell. That allowed the
Spartans to build their biggest lead of 32-25 on a layup off a steal by
Campbell at 3:02, causing Elwer to call time out. The Spartan defense
was daring the Jays to hit from the perimeter and they struggled. It
took a 3-pointer by Jared Wurst from the top of the key at 1:25 to get
the Jays within 32-28 to close the third period and set up the exciting
ST. JOHN’S (44)
Robby Saine 1-2 0-0 3, Tim
Kreeger 5-8 2-6 12, Jared Wurst 1-8 4-4 7, Richard Cocuzza 0-2 0-1 0,
Josh Warnecke 0-2 0-0 0, Owen Rode 5-8 6-6 16, Connor Hulihan 0-3 0-0 0,
Collin Will 2-5 0-1 6. Totals 14-38 12-18 44.
MANSFIELD ST. PETER’S (43)
Ramey 0-0 0-0 0, Mason Campbell 5-13 2-5 12, Elijah Cobb 2-4 1-2
7,Jared Jakubick 5-10 4-8 14, Jake Gurski 0-0 0-0 0, Tyson Kent 3-12 3-4
10. Totals 15-39 10-19 43.
St. John’s 12 9 7 16 - 44
St. Peter’s 10 15 7 11 - 43
Field Goal Percentage: St. John’s 36.8, St. Peter’s 38.5. Free Throw
Percentage: St. John’s 66.7, St. Peter’s 52.6. Three-point Field
Goals/Percentage: St. John’s 4-21/19% (Will 2, Wurst, Saine), St.
Peter’s 3-10/30% (Cobb 2, Kent). Rebounds: St. John’s 35/9 off. (Kreeger
12), St. Peter’s 21/3 (Campbell/Gurski 5). Assists: St. John’s 9
(Cocuzza 3), St. Peter’s 3 (Jakubick 3). Steals: St. John’s 5
(Wurst/Warnecke/Rode/Will/Hulihan 1), St. Peter’s 6 (Campbell/Jakubick
3). Blocked Shots: St. John’s 2 (Kreeger 2), St. Peter’s 2 (Campbell 2).
Fouls: St. John’s 16, St. Peter’s 14. Turnovers: St. John’s 12, St.