ELIDA — Confidence is a good thing to have in basketball and when both the coach and the players have confidence it is a very good thing.
Delphos St. John’s showed confidence in its defensive ability and its free throw shooting down the stretch in their Division IV district semifinal boys basketball match-up with New Bremen at the Elida Fieldhouse Tuesday night.
The result was a 57-45 win for the Blue Jays (18-5) win and the right to move on to the district final Friday where they will face St. Henry who beat Crestview 61-51 in the nightcap.
Delphos beat the much taller New Bremen squad 64-57 in overtime three weeks ago and wanted to come out and set the tone early.
The Blue Jays man-to-man defense was sticky from the outset and forced the Cardinals into hurried shot attempts.
“We challenged the kids to be better defensively,” Delphos coach Aaron Elwer said. “Our will to win and sense of urgency were keys tonight.”
The result was a tough shooting night for New Bremen (18-6), which managed only 27 percent in the first half and 33 percent for the game.
The Blue Jays got eight first-half points from Curtis Geise and seven from Ryan Buescher to grab leads of 14-11 after one quarter of play and 23-19 at the half.
The Cardinals’ twin towers, Ben Homan and Justin Heitkamp, were held to two first half points on a combined 1-for-6 shooting effort.
New Bremen began pounding the ball inside to start the second half and grabbed the lead at 33-28 before Delphos bounced back and regained the lead 36-35 going to the final period of play.
That lead came as the result of a 3-pointer by Ryan Koester who would then open the fourth quarter with another trey to give the Blue Jays a 39-35 lead.
“My teammates gave me good passes and I was able to hit the shots,” Koester said. “I have felt real confident in my shot lately.”
The Blue Jays then showed their free throw shooting ability when they converted 15-of-17 from the line in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
New Bremen was led by Luke Schwieterman with 14 points while teammate Parker Manger chipped in with 10.
Geise led the way for the Blue Jays with a game-high 24 points and Koester finished with 13 that came on the strength of four 3-pointers.
“”Koester hit some big shots to get us back into the lead and to keep us ahead,” Elwer said. “We have been a good free throw shooting all year and we are confident going to the line.”
Delphos finished the game outrebounding New Bremen by a 32-28 margin.
“Rebounding is about heart and will,” Elwer said. “We wanted to rebound and limit them to just one shot.”
[header12]St. Henry 61
St. Henry rode their two big men – Kyle Stahl and Ryan Mikesell – to the 61-51 win over the Knights.
OVERSET FOLLOWS:A tight back and forth for three quarters was broken open in the final period thanks to back-to-back three point plays by Jordan Bender. The first was a 3-pointer to end the third period and the next was an old fashioned bucket and free throw to open the fourth quarter and gave the Redskins a 45-37 lead they would never surrender.
The Knights were forced to foul and St. Henry was able to convert enough free throws to advance to the district final Friday night where they will face off against Delphos St. Johns.
Stahl had a game-high 25 points for the Redskins while Mikesell finished with 15 and Bender added 12.
The Knights (20-4) were led by Damian Helm with 17 points while Tyson Bolenbaugh had 13 and Cam Etzler chipped in with 12.
“Give Crestview credit, they just keep coming,” St. Henry coach Eric Rosenbeck said. “But give our kids credit for getting stops. Jordan Bender is a gamer. When the lights are on, he is there.”