KETTERING — You had to excuse Curtis Geise for being tired after Delphos St. John’s victory over Jackson Center on Tuesday in the Division IV regional semifinals.
Afterall, the 5-foot-10 senior practically carried the Blue Jays to a 62-53 win over Tigers in the Division IV regional semifinal at Trent Arena on the campus of Fairmont High School.
Geise scored a career-high 37 points, 25 of which came in the second half. That included making 11 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter to ice the game.
“That’s just Curt being Curt,” Blue Jays coach Aaron Elwer said. “Our leader came through. The players have a lot of confidence in him.”
The Tigers, last year’s Division IV state runner-up, scored the first two points of the game and led 14-11 after the first quarter behind 10 points from senior Alex Meyer. But the Blue Jays’ defense stifled Jackson Center in the second quarter allowing just four points — all by Meyer — and Delphos St. John’s took a 26-18 lead into the halftime locker room.
Meyer finished the game with a team-high 28 points. Senior Trey Elchert added 17.
In the third quarter, St. John’s took its biggest lead of the game with 2:16 left when Eric Clark connected on a runner in the lane to make the lead 15 at 42-27. At the end of the third, DSJ led 42-30.
Clark scored 10 points for the Blue Jays while Ryan Buescher added five.
“It’s exciting,” Elwer said. “That’s the kind of mindset we expect on both ends of the floor. We talk about being really efficient and accept our roles.”
The Blue Jays won the battle on the boards 33-24 while committing just three turnovers.
“It’s a five man unit trying to rebound the basketball,” Elwer said. “It’s hustle plays and effort plays. We knew possessions would be at such a premium.”
The fourth quarter was all about the Blue Jays making free throws as they scored just one field goal, but made of 19 of 21 from the charity stripe.
“Nothing, honestly,” said Geise about what he thinks about at the foul line. “It’s a routine. You don’t think of anything, you just shoot it.”
Jackson Center closed the gap to 46-40 with 3:28 left in the game, but could not get any closer.
With the win Delphos St. John’s will play Troy Christian at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Fairmont. Troy Christian beat Tri-Village 48-43.
“It’s a great feeling,” Geise said. “The teammates stepped up. It wasn’t a one-person thing. If it wasn’t for the rebounds and setting screens (we wouldn’t have won).”