|Charity line lifts Jays to district finals|
|Wednesday, March 06, 2013 1:27 PM|
The rematch didn’t go as long but the result was the same as the Blue Jays took the lead for good late in the third period and then drilled 15-of-17 free throws in the fourth period to eliminate the Cardinals 57-45 in the Division IV District semifinals Tuesday night on the Union Bank Court inside the Elida Fieldhouse.
The Blue Jays (18-5) advance to take on St. Henry 7 p.m. Friday in the District finals.
The Jays got a 3-ball from junior Ryan Koester (14 markers on 4 treys) with 13 ticks left in the third canto to take a 36-35 edge into the finale.
“Ryan has really shot well over the last 5-6 games, shooting over 60 percent from beyond the arc. He is a very capable scorer and has finally started to peak over the last part of the season,” St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer said.
Koester began the fourth with another bomb at 7:23 to put the Jays up 39-35. He started a trek to the free-throw line at 6:20 with hitting the first-of-2 singles. His 3-ball at the 4-minute mark made it 45-37 and was the last fielder for the Jays, right after a Parker Manger (10 points) deuce at 4:11 made it 42-37, as close as the Cardinals could get. They were also within 47-42 on a triple by senior Luke Schwieterman (14 markers) at the 3:30 mark but the Jays were 12-of-12 in the last 3:17 to make the Cardinals’ (18-6) fouling late in the contest moot. Senior Curtis Geise (24 markers) hit 6-of-6 singles in the period to lead the way as the Jays pulled away late, with 6-6 senior Ben Homan and sophomore Carson Manger both fouling out in an effort to prolong the game.
“We shoot over 77 percent from the line over the season, breaking the all-time mark by six percentage points. The kids take the challenge to heart and make a concerted effort to shoot them well in practice,” Elwer continued. “It’s not just one or two; it’s a total team effort. The kids take great pride in stepping up at the line.”
“They hit their free throws. We were within five points and then had a couple of good looks at the basket and didn’t make them; instead of being within a possession, they hit a big 3 and now we have to foul,” Daugherty noted. “They are too good at the free-throw line; it’s like being down 15 in that situation.” Both teams used man-to-man defenses to open the contest and basically played those the entire way. The Cardinals’ “D” focused on Geise and fellow senior Ryan Buescher (9 markers, 8 boards), while the Jays tried to neutralize the Cardinals height inside. When junior Eric Clark hit a trey from the key with 21 ticks left, the Jays led 14-11 but two singles by Manger (10 counters) at the 5.2-second mark made it 14-11.
The Jays seemed on the verge of taking control, pushing out to a 7-point edge twice in the second stanza, the last at 19-12 on a Geise drive to the hoop at 4:12. However, the Cardinals slowed down the Jays’ attack after that and got within 21-19 on a trey by Luke Schwieterman (14 counters) at 1:50. Geise hit a pull-up jumper from inside the paint at 26 ticks to make the halftime score 23-19.
New Bremen made a concerted effort to go inside to their size advantage in the paint in the third period and it worked, taking their last lead at 33-28 on a 3-point play by Homan (8 caroms) at the 3:30 mark. However, the Jays rallied with a closing 8-2 spurt, getting that triple by Koester from the right wing with 13 ticks on the board, to take that 1-point edge into the finale.
“We had been using our matchup zone most of the season but the last few games, we’ve gone with our man-to-man a lot. We challenged the kids and they have responded,” Elwer added. “Defense is number one and rebounding is number two after that; our focus is to limit the opponent to one shot per possession. It’s an effort thing and I am so proud of that effort; we played with a great sense of urgency.”
Clark missed the last half after having his bell rung in the first half.
Overall, St. John’s, the visiting team on the scoreboard, canned 15-of-38 shots from the floor, 7-of-18 downtown, for 39.5 percent and 20-of-26 at the line (76.9%). They outrebounded their foe 32-28 (5-8 offensive) as Evan Hays added seven. They also had one less turnover — 12-13 — and won the foul battle 14-21. Geise added four steals and Buescher three assists.
“This is the hardest-working team I’ve ever had; effort has never been an issue. Give St. John’s credit,” Daugherty added. “They simply beat us to every loose ball; they won all the effort plays and that was the key. We had good shots at the rim all night — I can think of maybe two bad shots all game — but we weren’t finishing strong against a very physical team.”
New Bremen connected on 17-of-51 shots, 4-of-6 3-balls, for 33.3 percent and 7-of-10 singles (70%).