Jefferson sophomore Trey Smith drives the baseline during the Jeffcats’ 79-70 loss to rival Spencerville on Friday night. Smith poured in a season-high 41 for Jefferson, but Spencerville moves to 6-1 in NWC action. (Times Bulletin/Randy Shellenbarger)
BY JIM METCALFE
DELPHOS — Fans of good shooting and team basketball got a thrill on Senior Night Friday night at “The Stage” of Jefferson Middle School. Archrivals Delphos Jefferson and Spencerville went at it toe-to-toe for four quarters. It took an 8-0 span by the Bearcats midway through the fourth period to give them enough cushion to seize a 79-70 Northwest Conference victory.
The Wildcats (9-8, 1-6) bid goodbye to four senior players: Ross Thompson, Tyler Rice, Austin Jettinghoff, and Tyler Mox.
However, sophomore Trey Smith had a career-high 41 markers and 10 rebounds to lead the effort as the Jeffcats shot 53.6 percent from the field.
There were plenty of scoring stars for the Bearcats (12-4, 6-1) as well: sophomore Zach Goecke, senior Ben Bowers, freshman Dakota Prichard and sophomore Mason Nourse as they canned 54.7 percent.
“What a great basketball game. It came down to them making a few more plays than we did,” Jefferson coach Marc Smith said. “They have so many weapons, they are a difficult team to defend. At the same time, we’ve got some weapons, too. Trey was outstanding tonight. He’s such a tough matchup for many teams. We had great performances from all our kids tonight from every class. They made a play here or there that made the difference.”
For Spencerville coach Kevin Sensabaugh, it came down to defense.
“We did not guard them well at all the entire game. Trey Smith is tough for us to match up with, as is Thompson,” he explained. “That’s all we did at halftime; emphasize defense. We played better but not to the level we need to as we get ready for the end of the season and tournament.”
Spencerville held a slim 54-53 edge to begin the final period, and Smith was unstoppable, knocking in 14 points. However, the only other scorer for the Jefferson was Jettinghoff with a 3-pointer. On the other end, the Bearcats had more balance, with eight each from Goecke and Prichard, along with five by Bowers.
When Jettinghoff canned a triple at 5:21, the score was 61-all. The Bearcats scored eight in a row in a 1:48 span and the Wildcats had two miscues and missed three shots in the same span.Spencerville took a 69-61 lead on a mid-court steal and layin by Goecke with 3:20 remaining. Smith scored the last nine points for Jefferson, with his long 2-pointer with 50 seconds left, getting them within 73-70. However, the ’Cats missed their final four shots and Spencerville finished on a 6-0 run, including a layup by Goecke before the buzzer.
Smith and Bowers went at it in the first period, with Smith dropping 12 and Bowers nine. However, five by Rice gave solid backup and when Smith powered in a basket, Delphos led 22-14.
The Wildcats, who shot 9-of-16 in the first period, continued on fire in the second, dropping 8-of-14. Goecke caught fire with 11 but Thompson and freshman Jace Stockwell notched six each for the Jeffcats. Jefferson’s lead was as high as 33-21 on a Thompson basket midway through the second before finishing the half with a 41-34 lead.
The Wildcats stayed hot in the third hittting 5-of-7, but six turnovers hurt the effort. Spencerville heated up even more, canning 8-of-14, with eight from Nourse. Despite Smith’s 10, the Bearcats grabbed a 54-53 edge on an off-balance 19-footer out of the left corner by Prichard that beat the horn.
“Ever since I’ve been here, we start our seniors on Senior Night and they played a great game,” Coach Smith added. “Ross Thompson was the Ross Thompson he’s been for four years. Austin was guarded very well but he didn’t force anything. Tyler Rice had a big first half and Tyler Mox just plays so hard. I am proud of all four and I believe their parents are proud of what kind of students and citizens they have with their kids. They represent Jefferson very well.”
“We played very well offensively all game,” Sensabaugh added. “We moved the ball around and knocked down open shots. We did everything in the world to win offensively; I was just disappointed with the defense.”
In junior varsity action, Jefferson grabbed a 51-44 triumph.
Pacing the Wildcats (10-7, 2-5) were 14 each from Josh Teman and Ryan Goergens and 10 by Drew Reiss.
For the Bearcats (3-13), Damien Corso had 12 and Keaton Gillispie 10.
Both teams return to action Saturday with Jefferson at Fort Jennings and Spencerville hosting Marion Local.
Score by quarters
Spencerville 14 20 20 25 - 79
Jefferson 22 19 12 17 - 70
Mason Nourse 4-0-11, Jacob Meyer 0-0-0, Zach Goecke 10-6-26, Ben Bowers 6-4-18, Dakota Prichard 5-4-16, Bailey Croft 3-0-6, Griffen Croft 0-0-0, Jon Long 1-0-2. Totals 22-7-14/15-79.
Jace Stockwell 3-0-8, Josh Teman 0-0-0, Austin Jettinghoff 1-0-3, Ross Thompson 5-1-11, Trey Smith 14-9-41, Tyler Mox 0-0-0, Nick Fitch 0-0-0, Tyler Rice 3-0-7. Totals 18-8-10/12-70.