|Vanlue’s size, experience too much for Wildcats|
|Monday, December 03, 2012 10:45 AM|
VANLUE — One place to start when figuring out who won the Jefferson at Vanlue boys basketball season-opener Friday night at “The Stage” in Vanlue was experience; the host Wildcats have six seniors — five of whom played Friday night — versus the visiting Wildcats’ two — only one of whom suited up.
The second is size: Vanlue has 6-10 Toledo signee Zach Garber, while the tallest Delphos player was 6-3.
It all added up a 53-45 Vanlue victory.
Garber (23 points) got it rolling early, scoring 12 of the 22 markers the hosts scored in the first period. At one point, the hosts led by 17 late in the period before the visitors rallied within 22-11 to close the stanza.
After that, the Red and White of Jefferson played evenly with their more experienced foe.
“It was what you expect of a young team; it’s typical that a young team will start out slowly. We got down 17 at one point and closed the gap,” Jefferson head coach Marc Smith noted. “That was a struggle all during the pre-season scrimmages; getting off slowly. We even tried to put the kids in early-game situations in practice but until you go through the varsity wars and figure out what a deficit means at this level, you really won’t learn it.”
Freshman Trey Smith, who started his varsity career with a 14-point outburst, led Delphos back in the second period, canning seven of his points. With the visitors getting a better handle on Garber with their combination of defenses, containing him to a mere two points, they climbed back within 28-24 on a Smith bomb from the key with 1:35 left. However, Vanlue used its patient offense to garner a banked-in triple from the right side by Dylan Watson with 2.1 ticks on the board for a 31-24 halftime spread.
“Garber requires you to give him so much attention that it does mean others will get some open looks. Either that, or try to go 1-on-1 with a 6-3 players on a 6-10 Division I college player; that is not a winning alternative,” Coach Smith explained. “They did have some guys capable of hitting the three and their seventh man, Austin Smith, hit two. Credit him for doing so but I’d take my chances with the seventh man hurting me than their Division I recruit.”
The visiting Wildcats shot 6-of-15 and outboarded their bigger foe 11-6 in the second stanza to help themselves get closer.
Despite that potential momentum-grabbing play, the visitors would not go away in the third. They continued to force Vanlue to shoot from the perimeter and it basically worked — 4-of-15. However, Delphos could only manage 4-of-12 and also turned it over four times in the last 2-plus minutes to prevent them from getting closer. They were within five points early before Vanlue rebuilt its edge to 41-30 on a Garber inside basket with slightly over a minute left. However, Smith notched a trifecta from the right wing with 46 ticks on the clock to get his team within 41-33.
Sophomore Nick Fitch (10 markers) dropped in six for the visitors.
Vanlue slowed the pace even more in the fourth, choosing to run its pattern offense and force Delphos to come out of its zone and go man. After building their lead to 48-35 on a Garber inside basket at 5:30, they also forced Jefferson to eventually start fouling to prolong the game and put them on the line. They only hit 3-of-7 in the final 1:04 (9-of-16 for the game for 56.3% to 3-of-5 for Jefferson for 60%). However, that was enough as the closest Jefferson could get was the final score on a 3-point play by Zach Ricker, the lone senior playing, with five ticks left.
Vanlue hosts Kalida tonight.
Jefferson is off until Friday when they head to Fort Recovery for a 6 p.m. start (junior varsity tip).
“The effort we gave was great. I told them that if we can continue to play with that kind of effort, the individual skills will get better and we’ll be fine,” Coach Smith added. “We are a work in process and will be the entire season; we need to get game experience at this level for a number of our kids. Ross (Thompson - 11 points) was as sick as could be the last two games and nearly went wire-to-wire tonight. It was that way up and down our lineup; they all played well.”
In the JV contest, Jefferson used a 12-1 advantage at the free-throw line to open with a 34-24 win.
Guiding the guests were junior Tyler Rice with 12 counters and freshman Dalton Hicks added 10. Sam Wagner paced the hosts with six.