|Inside defense, free throws lift Jays|
|Monday, December 24, 2012 12:31 PM|
The first was getting a handle on the long and lanky Bulldog front line that did a lot of damage the first half.
The second was using the charity line to good use as the Blue Jays went 26-of-33 from that space (78.8%) versus 10-of-12 for the visitors (83.3%).
“They were tough inside and we had to deal with it. We made some adjustments at the half to try and do so and the kids executed them well,” St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer explained. “They have a lot of length but unlike a lot of teams, they want the up-tempo pace. We are running more than in the past but we also want to make good decisions with the ball in those situations. As well, we’re getting to the line a lot more than we have in the past because of an aggressive attitude. We want the game to go inside-out.”
The free-throw disparity was what Celina head man Chris Bihn — whose team has lost to Versailles, Lima Senior and Ottawa-Glandorf — focused on.
“That’s the story right there,” he added. “I felt we were in good position defensively most of the time — I felt we had opportunities to pick up a number of offensive fouls but it didn’t happen.”
The Jays (5-1) trailed 30-24 at the half but used a more aggressive offensive mentality to either get to the glass or the line in the third period. They went 8-of-10 from there in the canto as senior Curtis Geise (game-high 25 markers, 11 boards and 6 steals) went 5-of-6 himself (16-of-19 for the night). The Jays also did better at defending the inside game of the green-clad Bulldogs, forcing them to shoot over the top. Mason Ross (9 caroms) did score five points in the period but the teams traded the lead twice. When sophomore Tyler Conley took a feed from junior Ryan Koester to the glass with 16 ticks on the board, the Jays were within 43-41.
Arik Fickert gave Celina a 4-point edge on an inside deuce to open the fourth but Geise took over. He scored a basket off a steal at 7:04, senior Seth Bockey hit a free toss and classmate Ryan Buescher (8 points, 4 boards, 3 blocks) gave the Jays the lead for good on a transition basket at 5:12. Geise hit two tosses only to be answered by a banker from Ross at 4:47 for a 48-47 Jays’ lead. Koester then drilled a key 3 from the left wing at 4:29 and when the Bulldogs turned it over (15 times overall to 10 for the hosts), the Jays then began to milk the clock more and force Celina to foul. In the final four minutes, the Jays hit 9-of-10 from charity (12-of-15 in the period), including all six by Geise, as the Jays held off any Bulldog rally.
“Curtis led tonight every way. He wanted the ball and accepted the challenge; he wants to go out in his senior year and have a great season for us,” Elwer added. “We shoot for 12 turnovers or less in a game and against that kind of tough pressure, to only have 10 was great ballhandling. They didn’t play the night before, so it was another double-weekend for us and we came through well.”
The game opened with both teams pushing the pace and the ’Dogs holding early supremacy on the glass — 11-5 (29-23 overall, 13-5 offensive). Head man Chris Bihn also used his bench extensively and used extended full-court pressure to get that tempo up. It worked as they led 16-11 on a pull-up 10-footer by Braden Billger (9 markers, 5 assists) with 16 ticks on the board.
Twice, Celina pushed its lead to eight points early in the second stanza: 19-11 on a Hoyng 3-ball (9 points) and 21-13 on a Fickert basket. The Jays rallied with seven straight to get within 21-20 on a 10-footer by sophomore Evan Hays at 5:20 but the visitors spent the rest of the canto slowly building a lead. When Matt Buschur (10 counters) went inside for a deuce at 35 ticks, they led 30-24.