|Jays hold down Mathias, edge archrival ’Dawgs|
|Monday, December 10, 2012 3:43 PM|
By JIM METCALFE
ELIDA — St. John’s boys basketball head coach Aaron Elwer had a “simple” game plan: deal with explosive Elida scorer Dakota Mathias — coming in with 124 points in his first three games — and Aric Thompson.
The game plan worked: the Blue Jays held junior Mathias to 5-of-13 shooting for 14 points (adding 12 boards and 5 steals) and senior Thompson to four points (3 blocks) in a 49-44 non-conference triumph over their long-time rivals.
“To go from putting that game plan together in our scouting report to executing it on the floor was great. We executed it perfectly,” Elwer explained. “Curtis face-guarded Mathias to try and prevent his touches and when he did get the ball, we were sending people to try and keep him from getting good looks. We also didn’t want to let Thompson set his feet because he’s too good of a shooter and generally, we didn’t give him clean looks. For the most part, we had few defensive breakdowns where they got open looks. We then limited their second chances, which was the second part of the plan.”
Elida was down two starters: 6-4 senior Ebin Stratton and junior point guard Louis Gray (injury).
“That’s down 40 percent of our starting lineup. We’re not that experienced or deep of a team to begin with but we’re forced to find depth elsewhere,” Elida coach Denny Thompson noted. “We’ll know something this week about Louis as to when we get him back and Ebin will also be back as far as I know. Still, in the long run, we’ll be better for this down the road because of the experience some of our other guys will get.”
Neither team shot particularly well: the Jays (1-1) canning 12-of-42 (4-of-22 downtown) for 28.6 percent versus 15-of-49 for the Bulldogs, 9-of-36 long range, for 30.6 percent.
As expected between two long-time foes that know each other very well, this game would be close from start to finish and both team’s defenses were not going to make things easier for the other’s offense. St. John’s gave senior Curtis Geise (12 markers) to primary task to defend the 6-4 Mathias, with plenty of help and double-teaming to force him to give up the orb, while Mathias had the task of checking Geise on the other end. Given that fact, along with other defenders doing a nice job on their marks and shooters struggling to find the range, a free throw by Jays’ senior Ryan Buescher (14 counters, 10 boards, 3 blocks) with two ticks on the board reduced their deficit to 8-5.
The defenses continued to rule in the second stanza. St. John’s heated up slightly, netting 10 points in the period to nine for the hosts. They rallied to take a 12-10 edge on two Geise singles at 3:38 but a 3-pointer by Thompson at 3:00 gave a 14-12 lead to the ’Dawgs. Mathias got free for a trifecta at 1:50 but two Buescher tosses at 1:09 made the halftime score 17-15.
Junior Eric Clark swished a triple at 7:40 to give St. John’s the lead, only to have junior Max Stambaugh drive to the rim for a 19-18 lead. However, once Clark hit two singles at the 6-minute mark, St. John’s led the rest of the period. They steadily built their biggest lead of the period at 28-20 on a basket by sophomore Andy Grothouse at 2:05. Stambaugh (13 counters, 8 caroms) knocked in a triple and a deuce by the 45-second mark but 6-4 sophomore Tyler Conley put back a third-chance basket with 11 ticks on the board for a 30-25 edge.
Thompson hit a triple and Stambaugh a shot from the left corner at the 7:15 mark of the finale to give the home team its last lead. Buescher answered with a bomb and Mathias tied it at 33 with 5:21 left. Clark netted a deuce with 5:05 left to give the Jays the lead for good at 35-33. From then on, all but two of their points — a hoop-and-harm by Buescher at 36.3 seconds — came from the free-throw line. They canned 10-of-13 from there in the final 1:50 (21-of-27 for the night for 77.8% to 5-of-8 for Elida for 62.5%) in building a lead as high as 47-38. The closest the hosts could get was 41-38 on two Mathias singles at 1:01 but the Jays held them off by hitting 6-of-9 singles.
St. John’s won the battle off the glass 37-30 (6-3 offensive); tied in the turnover wars 10-10; and had 13 fouls to 21 for the hosts.
“We had a lot of open looks; they just didn’t drop. We felt we should have been in the lead the first half,” Elwer added. “We took care of the ball a lot better the second half against a very good defensive team. Ryan has good length and anticipation; he is capable of good scoring and rebounding and being a good defender. We hit our free throws; it’s good to get a close game early on and get in that kind of situation.”
St. John’s hosts Ottoville 6:30 p.m. (2 quarters junior varsity) Tuesday, while Elida visits Wapakoneta 6:30 p.m. Friday.
“Give St. John’s credit; the game ended up being what they wanted and they made things very difficult for us. It’s what they do; they take away a lot of what we’d been doing well,” Coach Thompson added. “We needed other guys to step up and hit shots and that happened occasionally; it just didn’t happen enough. I felt we lost some patience at the offensive end down the stretch but we’ll get better as our inexperienced guys get playing time.”
Freshman Marquevious Wilson scored 18 points to help the Elida JV (3-1) to a 41-33 win.
Junior Aaron Hellman netted four treys for the Jays (0-2) for his 12 markers.