BATH TOWNSHIP — The question before the game was how much would Bath and Delphos St. John’s have left in the tank after tough boys basketball games on Friday night?
Bath lost a 55-54 heartbreaker on a last-second shot by Ottawa-Glandorf while St. John’s was forced to overtime before it knocked off New Bremen 64-57.
The answer was, both teams had plenty and the two battled for four quarters before the Wildcats pulled out a hard-fought 52-49 win over the Blue Jays.
Connor Rockhold, on his way to a game-high 18 points, got the Wildcats off to a good start with seven first-quarter points to pace Bath to a 14-6 lead after one quarter.
“We wanted to come out early and make a statement,” Rockhold said. “We talked about turning up the pressure and that resulted in open shots and we were able to convert them.”
Bath (17-4) started with a halfcourt trapping defense that caused the Blue Jays problems in the first quarter. But St. John’s responded by hitting 6-of-7 from the field in the second quarter, including 4-of-4 on three-pointers, and that hot-shooting got the Jays back to within 25-22 going to the break.
The Blue Jays (14-5) continued their offensive success as they hit 7-of-11 field goals in the third quarter, allowing them to outscore the Wildcats 17-11 and St. John’s took a 39-36 lead to the final quarter of action.
“Neither team had great energy to start but we turned it around in the third quarter but they got it going in the fourth,” St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer said.
Bath turned St. John’s over on three of its first four possessions and three different Wildcats — Logan Rockhold, Connor Rockhold, and Cole Chambers — converted 3-pointers for Bath.
A 15-4 Wildcats run to open the quarter game them a 51-43 lead with only three minutes to play.
“Turnovers hurt but they’ve done that to a lot of teams this year,” Elwer said. “They capitalized to start the fourth quarter before we battled back; but it just wasn’t meant to be tonight.”
The Blue Jays answered with a 6-0 run to get to within 51-49 with two minutes to play.
“Our game is to look for chances to trap and then rotate and get steals,” Bath coach Dough Davis said. “They got some easy baskets but we caused disruption to their offense.”
Two turnovers by Bath on inbounds plays led to two misses on field goal attempts by St. John’s before Logan Rockhold conveted one-of-two free throw attempts with 28 seconds left to play that gave the Wildcats a 52-49 lead.
Bath put 6-foot-4 Taren Sullivan on St. John’s standout Curtis Geise who stands 5-foot-10 before the Blue Jays called time with only seven seconds to play.
A desperation 3-point attempt by Geise bounced high off the rim and Bath grabbed the rebound and the victory.
“We were hoping we could get a lead but they kept coming back,” Davis said. “We had to work to the very end.”
Besides Connor Rockhold and his 18 points, the Wildcats got 12 points from Chambers, nine points by Logan Rockhold, and eight points from Sullivan. St. John’s was led by Geise with 15 points while Ryan Koester added 11 points and Andy Grothouse chipped in with nine for the Blue Jays.
Both teams shot the ball well — St. John’s hit 20-of-38 for 52 percent and Bath converted 20-of-41 for 49 percent — but the difference in the game was the Wildcats converted nine treys in the contest compared to six for the Blue Jays.