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’Cats conquer Kalida in non-league battle PDF Print E-mail
Friday, January 17, 2014 9:28 PM


Staff Writer

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DELPHOS — This is the time of year when illness, injuries and bad weather can wreak havoc on a basketball team’s preparations.

Both boys units from Jefferson and Kalida can commiserate, each with their share of all three.

Naturally, it came down to one more made free throw statistically as Jefferson slid by Kalida 51-50 in non-league action Friday night at “The Stage” of Jefferson Middle School.

The game was postponed from Dec. 14 due to weather.

Jefferson (8-5) was without sophomore rotation player Dalton Hicks due to injury, while Kalida (8-4) senior starter Joe Gerdeman and junior bench player Logan Roebke also were out with injuries.

“This has been one weird season between the weather, injuries and illnesses. This week, we didn’t have a practice where at least five of our guys weren’t out due to the flu, which has hit the school overall,” Jefferson coach Marc Smith explained. “This was a great team victory. We told the kids before that game that we were going to have to show mental toughness to make a play somewhere along the line to win the game and we did. We told them that teams to our north — Kalida, Ottoville, Fort Jennings, any Putnam County team boys or girls — have that mental toughness from the start because basketball is in their families and that’s why they regularly send some team to state. We grew up a lot tonight.”

Kalida mentor Dick Kortokrax could concur with Smith.

“This week, we had three of our rotation players — including Joe, who averages double digits — that did not practice due to injuries and two could not go tonight. We’re not using that as an excuse; it’s part of the game,” he observed. “Where it hurts more is on the offensive end — and in the skill level — because you don’t have that continuity you need to be effective. We called upon a couple of junior varsity sophomores to play varsity; it’s what you have to do. We did not have the balance we need to beat a team like Jefferson tonight; give them credit for overcoming what they have gone through.”

Both teams shot the same percentage — 42.9 percent — on 18-of-42, though Jefferson was 7-of-18 downtown and Kalida 7-of-20. The hosts were 8-of-13 at the stripe (61.5%) to Kalida’s 7-of-8 (87.5%).

Both teams took terrific care of the orb as the hosts only had five turnovers and the visitors four.

As expected between two well-matched teams — with the biggest lead by anyone being five and seeing 18 lead changes and two ties — this one came down to the fourth period. With Jefferson holding a 40-36 lead after 24 minutes, the visitors scored the first five points to take a 41-40 edge on a putback by junior Cole Miller (6 points, 7 boards) at 5:52, only to see the hosts retake it on a putback by senior Austin Jettinghoff (8 counters, 4 boards, 3 assists) at 5:01. There were four lead changes from then on, the last to make it 47-46 on a bomb from the left wing by Jettinghoff (7 markers in the period) with 3:04 left. Neither team could convert until senior Ross Thompson (11 markers, 10 boards) put back his own miss at 1:42 for 49-46. Kalida junior Devin Kortokrax (game-high 19 points) replied with a mid-lane deuce at 1:16 to get his team within 49-48, only to see Thompson answer on a drive at 41 seconds to make it 51-48.

With 6.0 seconds to go, sophomore Trent Gerding — seeing his first serious varsity action of the season — sank two free throws to make it a 1-point game. The Maroon and White fouled Jefferson sophomore Trey Smith (8 points, 7 caroms) for a 1-and-1 with 4.0 ticks showing. He missed the front end, Gerding rebounded and called a halt with no time coming off the clock to the Red and White’s consternation. However, Kalida had to go the length of the floor and Kortokrax’s 50-footer was way short as time expired.

The first stanza saw three exchanges of the lead early as both teams employed man-to-man defenses that they rarely strayed from: the Jeffcats concentrating on Kalida’s duo of Kortokrax and senior Randy Zeller (11 counters — 3 treys — 7 boards), Kalida emphasizing containing Smith, Thompson and Jettinghoff. Zeller netted a pair of rainbows — including the one that accounted for the game’s biggest lead of 10-5 at the 2:10 mark — and Thompson two deuces, including the foul-line jumper at 1:05 that got the hosts within 12-10.

After Smith buried two free throws to open the second period at 7:16, a Zeller bomb at 6:15 gave Kalida a lead. There were two lead changes and Kortokrax (10 points in the stanza) nailed a trifecta at 2:10, giving the visitors their last lead of the half — 25-21. Senior Tyler Rice (9 markers, all on triples) popped off the bench to bury his first trey at 1:48, starting an 8-0 closing splurge. When Smith (6 second-quarter counters) sank two singles at 42 ticks, Jefferson led 29-25.

Kalida dropped in the first six points of period 3 to retake the lead on two Kortokrax free shots at 5:25. That only started the trend of lead changes once more, with five more in this frame, the last a Rice (2 treys in the stanza) bomb at 3:23 that put the hosts up 38-36. The only other points in the canto came at the 38-second mark when Smith scored inside in transition for a 40-36 advantage.

Kalida finished up with 23 rebounds (7 offensive) as Gerding added four; and 16 fouls. Senior Adam Langhals had four dimes.

Jefferson snapped up 29 boards (12 offensive) and added 12 fouls. Freshman Jace Stockwell had a solid all-around game with 10 markers (2 treys), eight assists and five boards.

“Kalida has used the same successful defensive concept for years: make your third and fourth options beat you. We knew Ross and Trey would get a lot of attention because they are good players,” Coach Smith added. “What I saw that will help us was Jace stepping up and hitting some big shots and our bench, especially Tyler (Rice), giving us key minutes. We have had confidence in these guys all year and now they can see it too. We are hoping that their confidence continues to grow and that will only make us better. Again, this was a great team effort. To beat Kalida, you’d better be able to defend the post, rebound and play with mental toughness; we did all three.”

Coach Kortokrax credited Jefferson for those “other sources.”

“We did a great team defensive job on their big three: they average about 50 (47) points a game. Even Stockwell, in recent games, has started to score more,” he added. “In the five games I scouted of Jefferson, I did not see (Rice) score a point. Give him credit for making us pay for leaving him open. That is the mark of a good team; getting others who aren’t usually the stars to make plays when they are needed. Our effort was great all night; hand it to Delphos and Coach Smith for winning a tough game.”

In junior varsity action, Kalida, behind 13 points each by Drew Hovest (3 treys) and Brandon Verhoff and 12 from Trevor Maag, bested Delphos 68-43.

Jefferson (8-5) — without Grant Wallace — received 18 from Josh Teman (3 triples) and 17 by Ryan Goergens (5 bombs).

Both units return to action tonight: Jefferson at Pandora-Gilboa and Kalida at home versus Columbus Grove.



Adam Langhals 2-0-6, Austin Swift 0-0-0, Luke Langhals 2-0-4, Devin Kortokrax 6-5-19, Randy Zeller 4-0-11, Trent Gerding 0-0-0, Cole Miller 3-0-6. Totals 11-7-7/8-50.


Jace Stockwell 4-0-10, Austin Jettinghoff 3-1-8, Ross Thompson 5-0-11, Trey Smith 2-4-8, Tyler Mox 1-1-3, Nick Fitch 0-2-2, Tyler Rice 3-0-9. Totals 11-7-8/13-51.

Score by Quarters:

Kalida 12 13 11 14 - 50

Jefferson 10 19 11 11 - 51

Three-point goals: Kalida, Zeller 3, A. Langhals 2, Kortokrax 2; Jefferson, Rice 3, Stockwell 2, Jettinghoff, Thompson.




Grant Unverferth 4-0-9, Jordan Kortokrax 0-0-0, Drew Hovest 3-4-13, Trevor Maag 4-3-12, Nathan Vorst 1-0-3, Brady Laudick 3-0-7, Austin Klausing 1-0-2, Trent Gerding 3-1-7, Brandon Verhoff 6-1-13, Austin Swift 1-0-2. Totals 19-7-9/11-68.


Drew Reiss 0-4-4, Josh Teman 5-5-18, Cole Arroyo 1-0-2, Ryan Wittler 0-0-0, Ryan Goergens 6-0-17, Kyle Wreede 1-0-2, Brandan Herron 0-0-0, Christian Stemen 0-0-0, Nick Long 0-0-0, Drake Schmitt 0-0-0. Totals 5-8-9/12-43.

Score by Quarters:

Kalida 21 19 12 16 - 68

Jefferson 9 16 11 7 - 43

Three-point goals: Kalida, Hovest 3, Unverferth, Maag, Vorst, Laudick; Jefferson, Goergens 5, Teman 3.


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