DELPHOS — Delphos St. John’s caught fire early in Friday night’s 59-44 win over Fort Recovery, landing five 3-pointers in the first quarter and leading 24-8 after one. Of course, the Blue Jays couldn’t stay that hot for long, but their relentless defense made an Indian comeback impossible, although the teams battled on even terms for the remainder of the game. St. John’s is now 9-3 overall and 3-0 in the MAC. Fort Recovery is 6-5 and 1-3.

The Jays hit 5 of 9 three-point attempts in the first eight minutes. Seniors Lucas Metcalf (2), Tyler Ruda (2), and Jared Wurst (1) accounted for those five bombs. St. John’s wasn’t nearly that accurate from then on, but the big lead was plenty big enough. Of the Jays’ 48 field goal attempts (16 makes — 33 percent) in the game, 31 (10 makes, 32 percent) were from long range.

It was actually at the defensive end where Delphos was most outstanding. Fort Recovery senior sharpshooter Payton Jutte came into the game averaging 20.7 points. He missed his first six field goal attempts and didn’t score until hitting two free throws with 3:52 left in the first half. His first field goal came with 1:48 remaining in the third quarter. He ended with 10 points — two treys and 4-of-4 from the line.

“We take a lot of pride in the way we guard and prepare for teams,” said Blue Jay coach Aaron Elwer. “We try to put our best game plan together based on our players’ strengths, and we try to take away the other team’s strengths. That included Number 2 (Jutte) tonight, and that included Number Zero (junior Grant Knapke — 11.5 average) tonight and a few of their other guys. So proud of our guys…they did a great job of it.”

Delphos’s biggest lead was 37-16 on a Tyler Ruda triple with 1:58 left in the second period. The Indians closed the half with a 7-0 run to trail 37-23 at the break. Metcalf already had 16 points, including three 3-pointers.

Fort Recovery got as close as 12 in the third quarter at 37-25, 43-31, and 46-34. Two Metcalf freebies at 0:06 gave the Blue Jays a 48-34 lead after three.

Jutte’s second fielder, a deep three, got the Indians within nine at 48-39 with 6:06 left in the game, but Metcalf swished a straightaway trey at 4:31 to push the lead to a pretty safe 51-39. That was the Jays’ last field goal in the game, but they hit 8 of 11 free throws in the last four minutes to put the game away.

Fort Recovery actually shot better from the field — 40 percent (16 of 40) to 33 percent (16 of 48), but only two of their baskets were from beyond the arc, where they shot 17 percent (2 of 12) to the Jays’ 32 percent (10 of 31). Both teams hit a solid 71 percent from the line, the Jays on 17 of 24, the Indians 10 of 14. Delphos won the boards 32-24, including a slew of offensive rebounds. The Blue Jays also had fewer turnovers, 10-13.

Metcalf had a superb night with 26 points, including four 3’s and 10 of 11 free throws. Wurst and Ruda contributed 11 and 9. Senior post Noah Lennartz and Jutte had 12 and 10 for the Indians.

“He (Metcalfe) is the hardest working individual I’ve had in 12 years of coaching,” said Elwer. “I have the utmost confidence that Lucas is gonna make his next shot, the way he goes about his business every day. It’s fun to watch. It’s fun to coach. I’m happy as heck for him, because he deserves it more than any other kids I’ve coached.”

Fort Recovery (44)

Grant Knapke 4, Payton Jutte 10, Derek Jutte 5, Clay Schmitz 7, Noah Lennartz 12, Cobe Wendel 0, Blayne Tobe 6, Regan Martin 0.

Delphos St. John’s (59)Tyler Ruda 9, Lucas Metcalf 26, Curtis Schwinnen 3, Jared Wurst 11, Grant Czukker 5, Aiden Rode 3, Isaac Fairchild 2.

Fort Recovery            8    15    11    10    -    44

Delphos St. John's        24    13    11    11    -    59

3-point shooting: FR 2/12 (Payton Jutte 2), DSJ 10/31 (Metcalf 4, Ruda 3, Wurst, Rode, Czukker). Rebounds: FR 24, DSJ 32. Fouls: FR 19, DSJ 13. Turnovers: FR 13, DSJ 10. Jayvee score: FR 49-45.