DELPHOS – Quite often, tenacious defensive pressure will take its toll.
Lima Central Catholic and Delphos St. John’s are both well known for ‘getting after it’ at the defensive end.
Sunday’s annual matchup between the two programs was a prime example.
For nearly three quarters of action, both teams’ defensive pressure kept the score close.
However, in the fourth quarter, LCC took advantage of a seemingly tired St. John’s squad and pulled away for a 47-29 boys basketball victory at Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium.
At the halftime break, LCC (9-0) held a slight 20-17 edge. At the end of three quarters, the T-Birds’ lead was 33-25.
Then, in the final eight minutes of action, LCC held St. John’s to 2-of-9 shooting and outscored the Blue Jays 14-4.
St. John’s (7-3) struggled, offensively, for most of the game.
After hitting 4-of-11 shots from the field in the first quarter, the Blue Jays then made just 4-of-26 the rest of the way. In the second and third quarters combined, St. John’s was 2-of-17 from the field.
In fact, the Blue Jays had a span between the second and third quarters where they went without a field goal.
“We went into halftime, talking to our team about how we were going to have to wear them down,” LCC coach Frank Kill said. “I really thought that coming out in the fourth quarter that you really saw their tiredness. …We weren’t. We were charged and ready. We take a lot of pride at putting on pressure and wearing other teams down.”
For the game, LCC shot 43 percent from the floor. St. John’s connected on just 22 percent of its field-goal attempts.
LCC’s Dantez Walton (6-foot-4, forward) scored 13 points, blocked two shots and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds. Teammate Nick Taflinger scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Taflinger had six rebounds from his guard spot.
Tre Cobbs added nine points and four rebounds for the T-Birds.
Andy Grothouse led St. John’s with 11 points, including 7-of-9 shooting from the free-throw line. Tyler Conley (6-6, center) added nine points and nine boards for the Blue Jays.
Early on, LCC got out to a 5-0 lead, thanks to a basket by Ethan O’Connor (four points, five boards), then a 3-pointer by Taflinger from the left wing.
However, St. John’s responded to LCC’s early run, by going on a 6-0 run and taking a 6-5 lead. Evan Hays (seven points) scored two field goals, while Conley added a basket inside.
By the end of the first quarter, the game was knotted at 10.
The Blue Jays went ice cold in the second quarter, going 0-for-6 from the floor.
In the third quarter, Cobbs and Taflinger both hit 3-pointers to help extend LCC’s lead to eight points by the third stop. Defensively, the T-Birds helped cause five St. John’s turnovers in the third period.
“At practice, we always go hard. We always play defense,” Taflinger said. “Your offense isn’t always going to be there, but you can rely on your defense, night in and night out.”
Both teams were minus a starting player on Sunday.
LCC’s Jake Williams (6-foot-3, forward) was still out with a dislocated injury. He is expected back in the next week or so. St. John’s was without the services of Alex Odenweller, who was sick.
For the game, each team committed 13 turnovers.
In the rebounding department, LCC held a commanding 34-26 edge.
“I don’t think the score is indicative of the game at all,” St. Johns’ coach Aaron Elwer said. “Our execution, defensively, was good for the most part. With rebounding, I know we gave up a couple of them late (in the game).
“I guess at the end of the day, it comes down to us scoring with the basketball. We didn’t have enough firepower. We didn’t have enough skill. And their pressure eventually wore us down. They contested all of our shots. We have to have the ability to create our own offense. At the end of the day, the ball has to go into the hole. We weren’t able to do that.”
Kill pointed to his team’s balanced scoring attack as a key to this year’s success.
“We have an offense that’s applicable for everybody. We’re not just a ‘one-man show’. We’re a team that doesn’t focus on one guy,” Kill said.