DELPHOS — An almost half-court shot by Delphos St. John’s guard Curtis Geise provided a boost of momentum to the Blue Jays heading into the fourth quarter. They went on to defeat the New Knoxville Rangers 50-43 in a Midwest Athletic Conference contest at the Vatican on Friday night.
Delphos turned up the defense in the fourth quarter limiting New Knoxville to only four points, while the Jays scored 10 points for the seven-point victory.
“They are a pretty young team,” Delphos head coach Aaron Elwer said. “They are not very deep and we got a little physical and I think we wore them down a little bit.
“That was a big shot at the end of the third quarter by Curt,” Elwer said. “He has a knack for doing things like that and that was a good way for us to build momentum going into the fourth quarter.”
It wouldn’t have been very close going into the fourth quarter if it wasn’t for a big third quarter by New Knoxville. Trailing 26-16 at halftime, the Rangers, led by Lucas Leffel, scored the first 10 points of the quarter on three layups by Leffel to tie the game at 26-all with 5:28 left in the third.
“We moved the ball a little better in the third quarter,” Rangers head coach Kort Fledderjohann said. “We challenged the kids at halftime to move a little better.”
Delphos answered back with a basket by Geise, but New Knoxville scored a basket by Jake Allen and Ben Kuck put the Rangers ahead with a basket for a 30-28 lead with 4:15 left.
With the score tied at 35-35, Allen hit a free throw with 90 seconds left. Delphos regained the lead on a basket by Geise with 28 seconds left. It looked like the Rangers might get the lead after three quarters when Shane Topp nailed a three-pointer with five seconds left, but Geise struck again with a shot just past midcourt at the buzzer for a 40-39 lead going into the fourth quarter.
DSJ dominated the early action.
The Jays used a good start to stay one step ahead of the Rangers grabbing an 8-0 lead, but New Knoxville battled back to close the deficit to 13-11 after the first eight minutes.
“It is nice to be able to get off to a good start,” Elwer said. “Tonight was kind of a learning process for us. The kids were excited, but didn’t stop playing and battled through adversity in the third quarter.”
The Rangers couldn’t stay with the Jays in the second quarter as Delphos outscored the Rangers 13-5 to grab a 10-point lead 26-16 at halftime.
“The last three games we have had trouble getting off to a good start,” Fledderjohann said. “We really stressed before the game that we can’t let it happen again.
“Consistency is what is hurting us right now,” Fledderjohann said. ”We had five points in the second quarter and four points in the fourth and it is hard to win games like that.”
Geise led all scorers with 21 points, while Leffel scored 14 points and Jake Allen had 10 points for the Rangers.
“I think the first half we did a good job on Leffel,” Elwer said. “We did a good job of limiting his touches and we forced him to take tough shots.”
In the JV game New Knoxville defeated the Jays 44-37.
St. John’s (4-3, 2-0) travels to LCC on Sunday at 1 p.m. for the annual all-Catholic Sunday showdown, while New Knoxville (5-2, 1-1) entertains Botkins tonight.