WAPAKONETA — Delphos Jefferson had three different players lighting up the scoreboard against Allen East in Tuesday night’s Division III sectional semifinal game at Wapakoneta. As the game progressed, it became clear the Wildcats were going to need all the hot shooting it could get.
Trey Smith, Ross Thompson and Austin Jettinghoff provided ample firepower for the Wildcats to beat Allen East 82-69. They will face Lima Central Catholic in the sectional final game at 6:15 p.m. Friday in the sectional finals.
Thompson led the way with a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Smith had a game-high 25 points, while Jettinghoff finished with 19 points.
“We really feed off of each other’s emotion out there,” Jettinghoff said. “It’s easy to play with these guys because they’re capable of sharing the ball. They know who to give the ball to, and when to give it to them.”
After a sluggish first quarter, both teams found the basket relatively easily and often starting in the second quarter, and only slowed up slightly in the second half.
Allen East began the second half trailing 41-38 but got itself rolling in the third quarter. The Mustangs went on a 9-0 run toward the end of the period and gained a lead as big as seven points before time and, unfortunately for Allen East, momentum ran out.
The fourth quarter belonged to Delphos Jefferson, in every facet of the game. Entering the quarter with a five-point deficit, the Wildcats quickly marched back into the lead for good, opening up a 14-0 run over a span of three minutes in the final period.
Before the Mustangs knew it, they were looking at a 74-64 deficit, with just two minutes remaining.
“That was a game where we wanted to get the tempo up,” Delphos Jefferson coach Marc Smith said. “We thought that we were more athletic in a few positions, and we exploited that. I thought our defensive pressure wore on them, and I think that’s what allowed us to make a big run.”
Matt Shuey was the Mustangs’ scoring leader, finishing with 20 points. Tanner Richardson finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points and adding 10 rebounds. Logan Rex scored 13 points and Clay Plaugher had 12 points to reach double-digits for Allen East.
Allen East sent the Wildcats to the free throw line 35 times in the game, with Delphos Jefferson converting on 30 of those attempts. The foul trouble was something the Mustangs just couldn’t overcome.
“We were really trying to attack the basket,” Thompson said. “Coach stressed it really heavily at halftime. We knew that with them being in foul trouble, if we could attack the rim then we would have a good advantage over them the rest of the game. We really executed the game plan well.”