Wildcats stifle St. John’s, 39-36
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 12:14 AM
By Charlie Warnimont
St. John’s guard Ryan Koester (14) drives to the basket in the face of Miller City’s Jacob Gerten during district semi-final play at Elida on Tuesday night. The Wildcats came out with a 3936 win over the Jays and will meet Crestview on Friday night. (Times Bulletin/Randy Shellenbarger)
ELIDA — Delphos St. John’s had momentum early in the fourth quarter of their Division IV district semi-final with Miller City Tuesday night.
The Blue Jays scored the first five points of the final stanza to match their biggest lead of the game. And just when it appeared they had the Wildcats on the ropes, Miller City came storming back.
The Wildcats roared back to tie the contest, then take the lead for good as they went on to claim a 39-36 win over the Blue Jays at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Miller City (16-8) advances to face top-ranked Crestview (24-0) Friday night in the Division IV district championship game at Elida, at 7 p.m. The Blue Jays saw their season end at 13-9.
After struggling offensively much of the game, the Blue Jays appeared to be getting on track in the second half, taking a five-point lead in the third quarter and again in the fourth. However, it was hard for St. John’s to maintain their offensive consistency against the Wildcats roaming 2-3 zone.
Tied at 23-23 after three quarters, the Blue Jays scored the first five points of the final quarter as Evan Hayes dropped in a short jumper and after Andy Grothouse split a pair of free throws, Hayes came up a steal he converted into two points for a 28-23 lead.
Miller City didn’t panic as Jackson Lammers beat his defender off the dribble for a layup, then seconds later did the same thing. Lammers had a chance to tie the game, but couldn’t finish the three-point play leaving the Wildcats down one at 28-27. After a Grothouse free throw pushed the Blue Jay lead to two, Adam Drummelsmith tied the game with a putback with 3:50 left.
Nearly 90 seconds ticked off the clock before the Wildcats took the lead on a 3-pointer by Adam Niese only to see Eric Clark answer back for St. John’s. Miller City regained the lead 15 seconds later when Drummelsmith converted two free throws with 1:56 left. Neither team would score until there were 24.4 seconds left when Grothouse hit the second of two free throws pulling the Blue Jays within one.
Niese gave Miller a three-point lead four seconds later when he got to the basket and scored. St. John’s turned the ball over on their next possession, then fouled Niese who drained both free throws. After a missed 3-pointer by the Blue Jays, Niese was fouled again and split a pair of free throws. A 3-pointer by Clark at the buzzer accounted for the final score.
“The fourth quarter was huge for us,” Miller City coach Bryan Kuhlman said. “We talk about winning every quarter and tonight we were able to win that fourth quarter and the game. We were able to get some penetration we hadn’t been getting, and that was the difference. Then we made our free throws down the stretch.”
“It was a closely contested game, for the most part,” St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer said. “Give credit to our guys for getting over the hump and taking the lead. And give them credit for coming back and eventually taking the lead. This was two teams that didn’t want to go home. Unfortunately one has to; that’s competition and that’s sports.”
St. John’s struggled offensively the first half against the Wildcats 2-3 zone. They hit just one field goal in the first quarter in falling behind 6-3 after one quarter and they were 4-of-27 the first half as they were down 15-10 at the break. For the game, the Blue Jays were 14-of-49 (28.5 percent), including a 4-for-20 effort from three-point range. Miller City was 13-of-43 shooting (30 percent) and 4-for-16 from three-point range.
“Obviously you are not going to beat good teams when you shoot that percentage,” Elwer said. “Lucky for us, we defended and rebounded well all year and that kept us in the game. The ball has to go in the rim and it didn’t do that for us tonight. They (Miller City) did a good job defensively. They packed it in, but they were spread out enough to contest shots and they did a good job taking away the middle of the zone, which is a spot you typically want to attack. We weren’t to get inside and honor the paint as much as we wanted to.”
Drummelsmith had a double-double for the Wildcats with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Niese added 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Heuerman had eight points and Jackson Lammers seven as just four Wildcats scored.
Grothouse led the Blue Jays with 10 points, while Koester, Clark and Hayes each had six. Tyler Conley pulled down 13 rebounds for the Jays.
Score by quarters
St. John’s 3 7 13 13- 36
Miller City 6 9 8 16- 39
St. John’s (36)
Grothouse 10, Koester 6, Clark 6, Hayes 6, Conley 5, Hellman 3, Odenweller 0
Miller City (39)
Drummelsmith 14, Niese 10, Heuerman 8, Lammers 7, Gerten 0, Kuhlman 0