|Geise scores 37 to pace Jays to Regional finals|
|Wednesday, March 13, 2013 12:51 PM|
“It feels great to be a step away. It’s not a 1-person team; everybody is contributing,” Geise said. “Others are setting screens for me to get me open and finding me with good passes. It’s fun how we’re doing this.”
St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer concurred.
“Coaches always talk about great team chemistry but this team has achieved it. No one cares who gets the credit; it’s all about winning,” he explained. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a team quite like this; it’s fun to see how they prepare — they’ve worked so hard starting last spring, through the summer, the fall and now — and take the game plans we give them and execute them well. It’s a lot of fun.” The Blue Jays (20-5) advance to take on Troy Christian (25-2; finished ranked 9th in the final AP poll), who knocked off top-ranked and previously-unbeaten New Madison Tri-Village (26-1) 48-43 in overtime in the second game Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. Friday with a trip to state on the line. Perhaps the Tigers (22-5) showed their experience at being at the regional level last winter in the early going, with senior Alex Meyer scoring 10 of his team-high 28 (3 bombs) in the first period. His two free throws with 1.5 seconds to go gave the Tigers a 14-11 edge.
Whatever nerves the Jays may have been feeling were gone in the second stanza. Their man-to-man defense kept the guard-oriented Tigers on the perimeter and not getting many open looks. On the other end, their dribble-drive attack began to make headway against the JC man scheme, with Geise getting untracked with nine points. His 3-ball from the eight wing at 4:23 gave the Jays the lead for good at 18-16 and he scored the last four markers of the half, including a transition layin with 1:01 to go, for a 26-18 halftime bulge.
There were no turnovers by either team the first half. The Jays ended up with three for the game, the Tigers two.
Geise was only getting started as the Jays realized who their hot hand was and went to him more in the third. With their defense continuing to hound the Tigers and with Geise going off for 12 more, their biggest lead of the night reached 43-27 on a drive by junior Eric Clark (10 counters) at 2:17. Trey Elchert (17 counters, 3 bombs) hit a long ball just left of the key at 1:43 to make the score 43-30, Jays, to commence the fourth.
The Tigers began to let fly even more in the finale in an effort to try and get back in the game, tossing up 19 shots (making 8, including 4-of-9 3-balls). They also had to be more aggressive defensively and had to foul. Big mistake. The Jays, who are shooting over 77 percent for the season, shot even better this game: 22-of-25 (88%). With Geise hitting 13-of-14 overall, including 11-12 in the final 6:30, Clark 4-of-4 and senior Ryan Buescher (11 boards) 3-of-4, the Jays were 18-of-20 to hold off the Tigers. The closest they could get was 57-52 on a trey by Meyer with under a minute left.
“You knew Jackson Center would have too much pride to not make a run; it’s in their community. Our whole goal all game was to contest every shot and not give them open looks; they hit some tough shots in the fourth,” Elwer continued. “Curtis is our leader; he’s been on varsity for four years and has been in that situation; we want the ball in his hands. As a team, we focus a lot of free throws. Again, these guys have put in a lot of extra time shooting them in practice and that gives them confidence during games.”
Geise explained his “secret.”
“I really don’t think about it when I step to the line; if I did, I’d probably miss them. It’s just going up with confidence and trusting my routine,” he added. “That’s what’s great about this team, too; we trust each other and believe in each other.” Another key stat was the Jays outrebounding their foe 34-25 (9-6 offensive). Eric Ryder led the Tigers with 11, while Geise added seven and senior Seth Bockey six.
“We’re not the biggest or tallest team but it’s about a concerted team effort,” Elwer added. “We have all five guys rebounding; it’s a great collective effort on both ends and on the glass — guys may not score but they are doing the things you need to win — and the results are very satisfying. We have one more game to win to get to state and it doesn’t matter who it is; they’re both going to be tough.”
Jackson Center ended up shooting 20-of-48 from the field, 7-of-21 downtown, for 41.7 percent and 6-of-15 singles (40%). They added 20 fouls.
The Jays netted 18-of-43 (4-of-15 long range) for 41.9 percent and added 12 fouls.
In the nightcap, New Madison — after trailing the entire second half and almost the entire second period — rallied to tie the game on an inbounds layup by 6-6 senior Tyler Cook (13 markers, 14 boards) with 15.7 ticks left and the Eagles missed a 3-ball and a last-second putback to force overtime.
Troy Christian bounced back by outscoring the Patriots 9-4 in the extra four minutes, taking the lead for good on a basket from the key by 6-6 senior Christian Salazar (10 boards, 8 points) at 2:42 and then hit 7-of-8 free throws in the final 2:15 to seal the deal.
Troy Christian used a deliberate offense based on a lot of drive-and-kick principles to shoot 14-of-47 from the floor, 6-of-25 long range, for 29.8 percent and 14-of-17 singles (82.4%). Grant Zawadzki led the way with 20 markers (10-of-12 free trows) and four assists, while Spencer Thomas added 10. They grabbed 28 rebounds (7 offensive) and added nine miscues and 17 fouls.
New Madison Tri-Village canned 15-of-44 fielders, 3-of-16 beyond the arc, for 34.1 percent and 10-of-21 freebies (47.6%). Senior Drew Pipenger led all scorers with 24 to pace the Patriots. They tracked down 38 off the glass, 15 offensive, as Andrew Willcox added nine. They ended with 16 errors and 19 fouls.