SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Shawnee came out in a zone defense to start Friday’s nonconference boys basketball matchup with visiting Delphos Jefferson.
Shawnee coach Mark Triplett needed a lift, so he switched to man-to-man.
Triplett quickly received the lift he was looking for.
Shawnee’s defensive pressure wreaked havoc on Jefferson, as the Indians took control of the game and cruised for a convincing 66-34 victory.
Shawnee’s pressure helped cause 22 turnovers, including 14 in the first half.
Sheridan O’Neal led Shawnee (6-2) and all scorers, with 17 points, including two 3-pointers. O’Neal also pulled down six rebounds. Johnny Caprella scored 15 points, mostly off strong inside moves. Caprella also got it done at the defensive end, making four steals.
Davion Tyson led Delphos Jefferson (3-5) with nine points. Alex Rode scored six points and came away with eight rebounds.
“We started in a zone,” Triplett said. “They have those three big boys (Rode, 6-foot-5; Tyson, 6-4 and Tyler Bratton, 6-5). So, we thought we would have trouble matching up, especially with our starting group.
“But we just didn’t have a lot of energy early in the game. We decided to switch it up and give some full-court pressure. The guys did a great job of bringing some energy. We had guys coming off the bench, and they gave us great energy. I thought that was the biggest difference – the defensive energy that got us going.”
Delphos Jefferson jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game. A 3-pointer by Trey Gossman (3 points) led the way for the Wildcats.
Shawnee struggled early on, offensively, as Jefferson took control.
However, after the switch at the defensive end, the Indians started to pick up the pace.
O’Neal hit a 3-pointer at the 2:20 mark, cutting the Jefferson lead to 10-7.
An inside move by Jake Hutchins (5 points), cut the deficit to 10-9 with 1:30 left in the first stanza.
Then, a field goal by O’Neal gave the Indians an 11-10 lead – its first lead – with less than a minute to play in the first quarter.
Shawnee led 13-10 at the first stop. O’Neal scored seven points in the first eight minutes of action.
Shawnee kept pushing the tempo in the second quarter, extending out to a 27-16 advantage by the break. The Indians’ defensive pressure helped cause 14 first-half Jefferson turnovers.
“We started out great in the first quarter,” Jefferson coach Jordan Jettinghoff said. “Then, once they turned on the pressure, we kind of got careless with the ball. Once again, turnovers keep haunting us. We have to find ways to take care of the ball.
“They basically got every rebound and every loose ball. That was basically the story of the game. For whatever reason, we didn’t have the energy and enthusiasm.”
Jefferson cut the deficit to seven points, twice in the third quarter.
However, Shawnee responded.
With three minutes left to play in the third stanza, O’Neal canned a three to push the Indians out to a 36-26 lead.
Justin Behnke came off the bench and nailed two 3-pointers to help push Shawnee’s lead to 42-28, with less than two minutes to play.
Shawnee’s lead grew to 47-30 by the third stop. O’Neal scored seven points in the third frame.
In the fourth quarter, Shawnee outscored Jefferson 19-4. The Wildcats were just 1-of-9 shooting down the stretch.
For the game, Shawnee shot 41 percent, while Jefferson shot 34 percent.
Shawnee won the boards, 35-25.
“We talked a lot about that (rebounding),” Triplett said. “They have three big guys who will try to hurt you in the post and beat you up in there. I was proud of our guys on how they handled that.
“We had 11 guys score tonight, which says a lot about the depth of our team. We have some pretty good balance there. Sheridan (O’Neal) and Johnny (Caprella) have got it going. They’ve been our catalysts all season. But, we had a lot of guys step up tonight and play hard. It was fun to watch.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.