SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Shawnee’s Johnny Caprella is in the scoring zone.
The sharp-shooting senior, who put up 30 points against Coldwater on Jan. 6, followed it up with a 29-point performance to help the Indians defeat Delphos St. John’s 55-48 in a non league affair Saturday night.
Caprella highlighted his outstanding offensive showing by scoring 11 of his points in the fourth quarter including a clutch 3-pointer with 1:40 left in the game that would propel them to a lead they would not relinquish down the stretch.
“Johnny is an aggressive kid and he is kind of a streaky shooter,” Shawnee head coach Mark Triplett said. “We’ve seen him get hot from the perimeter and when he gets his confidence going he can really carry you.”
Shawnee improves to 10-2 for the season. Delphos St. John’s falls to 6-5 overall.
In the game the two teams battled evenly in the first half with Shawnee holding the 27-25 advantage.
But behind the shooting of Richard Cocuzza, who had 10 points in the third quarter, and a smothering defense, Delphos battled back to take the lead 36-35 going into the fourth quarter.
“I thought we needed to step it up on the defensive side of the floor and we got some crucial stops late,’ Triplett said. “Delphos forces people into a tough style of play and they are an aggressive on the defensive end and attack, attack, attack on the offensively. I think they dictated how the game was played tonight but we found a way to get the job done.”
Delphos head coach Aaron Elwer said the team’s top priority was to stop the shooting duo of Sheridan O’Neal and Caprella. Even though O’Neal finished with 14 points, he was a non factor in the second and third quarter but the Blue Jays could not corral Caprella who pumped in a trio of treys including two in the final period.
“Goal No. 1 was to make things difficult on those two guys because offensively they do a lot of good things for them,” Elwer said. “I think we did an OK job at times but once Caprella got going we didn’t do a great job.”
While Caprella was scoring, the Blue Jays kept pretty much everybody in check and that kept Delphos in the game. However, the Delphos offense could have used a second another scorer to compliment Cocuzza who led the Blue Jays with 18 points.
“That has been us to a degree to one or or two players get going but consistently to have six, seven or eight guys give us production and efficient minutes offensively has been a struggle for us. We will continue to look for it and that is why we played 11 guys tonight.”
Credit Shawnee’s composure down the stretch after the Indians hit 9-of-12 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. O’Neal was 4 for 4 in the fourth period from the free throw line.
“Give our guys credit they battled back to tie it up in the third quarter and I am proud of our effort on the road against a really good team,” Elwer said. “We are not far away.”
While Elwer goes back to try and regroup, Triplett said he continues to see his team improve and win in a variety of ways.
“We have some guys that are stepping up and we are a very unselfish basketball team,” Triplett said. “They care about competing and what is on the front of your jersey and not worrying about individual accolades and I think Delphos is a very good basketball team.
NOTE – Russ Holly, who spent 30 years in education and 25 at Shawnee High School, was inducted in to the Indians Hall of Fame for his coaching efforts with the cross country and track and field. Also inducted was Dan Perry, a 1969 graduate, who played for the University of Kentucky.
Reach Jose Nogueas at 567-242-0468 or on twitter @JoseNogueras1