|Jays pull away late, stay atop MAC standings|
|Monday, January 07, 2013 9:33 AM|
COLDWATER — St. John’s had yet to play a road Midwest Athletic Conference boys basketball game in 2012-13, so head coach Aaron Elwer was interested to see how his team would respond.
It was as consistent as he might have liked but the Blue Jays made big plays that turned the momentum and they pulled away to a 55-41 victory over Coldwater Friday night inside The Palace.
The Jays used warm shooting — 22-of-43, including 5-of-14 downtown, for 51.2 percent.
“You always want to see how you start and play on the road in the league, especially with some young guys we have in our rotation. It was back and forth; we’d get a lead and try to extend it but they’d answer,” Elwer explained. “We talked about that at the half; really extending the lead and not letting them get back in it. We didn’t execute that as well as we’d like but we we did in the fourth quarter. We put the game away late and that’s a good sign.”
For Coldwater coach Mike Bruns, it’s a lesson his team needs to learn.
“This is why you play tough games like this; you have to learn how to win games like this. We fell behind and had to play catchup most of the way,” Bruns added. “It’s hard to hold a team like St. John’s under 50 points but when they were hitting shots, we didn’t. I remember our first or second possession where we had four shots in the paint and couldn’t hit any. We are getting better and learning how to make the momentum plays — or not give them up — is an area we will focus on.”
The Jays (6-2, 3-0 MAC) led almost from start to finish. The teams traded the lead four times in the first period and the Jays took the lead for good at 9-7 on a 3-ball by senior Ryan Buescher (12 markers, 10 boards) at the 3:27 mark. The Jays hit four of their five made threes for the game in the first canto, with four different guys doing so, They led 17-7 as sophomore Evan Hays took a 3/4-court steal and headed the other way for a layin at the 15-second mark before Caleb Siefring banked in a foul-line jumper with 3.1 ticks on the board for a 17-9 scoreboard.
Led by senior Austin Bruns (15 counters, 7 boards), who scored five points in the second, the Cavaliers (2-4) got within 17-16 on his 10-footer at 5:02 of the second, causing Elwer to call a timeout. The Jays responded behind senior Curtis Geise’s eight counters (game-high 22, 8 boards) and built up a 27-18 edge on a layin from sophomore Andy Grothouse (feed from Buescher) with 2.1 ticks on the board.
Junior Eric Clark hit a deuce at the 7-minute mark to expand the Jays’ lead to 29-18 but once more, Coldwater had an answer — with Mitch Heyne (12 counters) leading the way with a pair of bombs — to get within 31-29 on his triple at 1:36 and 33-31 on two tosses by Brody Hoying (1:00). However, third-chance putback by junior Ryan Koester that beat the horn put the visitors up 35-31.
Heyne netted a second-chance basket at 7:15 of the finale but the Cavaliers could not follow that up. After senior Seth Bockey scored his only basket for the Jays at 6:25, Heyne again made it a 2-point game at 5:50. However, Buescher hit a big triple from the left side at 5:04 and that seemed to spur the Jays. With Buescher and Geise each scoring seven counters in the canto, the Jays finished strong on an 18-6 span to grab the 14-point triumph.
“It’s so nice to have seniors like Curtis and Ryan. Curtis has been a 4-year player on varsity and it’s nice to have the ball in his hands,” Elwer added. “Ryan is a guy we depend on to score and rebound consistently; he has good size, length and leaping ability. Defensively, outside of a couple of times where we lost Bruns, we did a nice job, especially in our set defense. We also did better at limiting their second and third chances.”
In sum, St. John’s notched 6-of-8 at charity (75%); 29 rebounds (6 offensive); 11 miscues; and a clean seven fouls. They host long-time archrival Lima Central Catholic for their annual Sunday afternoon tussle (1 p.m. junior varsity start).
Coldwater knocked down 17-of-50 shots (34 percent), including 5-of-22 downtown; both free throws; hauled in 26 boards (10 offensive); 10 miscues; and 11 fouls. They visit Shawnee tonight.
In JV action, the Jays nabbed a tight 37-35 victory.
Sophomore Alex Odenweller poured in 19 markers for the victors.
Chase Bruggeman and Malave Bettinger knocked down nine for the Cavaliers.