DELPHOS – Delphos St. John’s Jared Wurst saved his best for when the Blue Jays needed him the most.
The four-year senior starter, who finished with a game-high 23 points, hit a trio of treys in the last two minutes of the first half to help Delphos build a lead and then scored six points down the stretch, including recording two steals, to propel the Blue Jays past a pesky Perry team, 52-44, Saturday night in the season opener for both squads
Blue Jays head coach Aaron Elwer arise counting on Wurst for showings like this throughout the year.
“At some point in the game basketball you need have a player that is going to make a tough play whether that be a shot or a rebound or something defensively and Jared did that for us tonight. One of his biggest assets is to make everyone better and we are going to be a tough team to beat and a tough out.”
Perry head coach Matt Tabler said Wurst three 3-pointers in the second quarter really hurt the Commodores.
“When Wurst hit those three 3-pointers it was a like a dagger because half of us were in one defense and the others were in another defense and you can blame that on youth and inexperience but I blame it on lack of communication something we have been preaching to our kids,” Tabler said.
Tabler added that the team kept battling but more importantly he had a chance to see how his freshmen, three on the floor most of the night, would perform in their varsity debut.
“For them to open in an environment like this we can only get better,” Tabler said. “I told our kids that there are two ways we can take this loss. What determines a good loss or bad loss is what we learned from it and we will see in the next three games. If we do well we will take it as a good loss.”
In addition to Wurst’s shooting, the Blue Jays also utilized a tenacious defensive effort to force 12 Perry turnovers that also led to a 29-20 advantage.
The Blue Jays would go up as much as 11 in the third period, but Perry decided to step up its defensive pressure and quickly began to chip away at the Delphi lead. Going into the fourth quarter, Perry was down 40-32 but a quick strike 8-0 run to open the final quarter saw the Commodores knot the score at 40 with 5:49 left in the game.
However, Perry could not get over the hump as a bucket by Wurst followed by a steal by the senior standout and two made free throws, saw the lead grow back to four, 44-40. Terry’s Jamal White side brought the Commodores back to within two, 46-42 with 2:03 left in the game but clutch free throw shooting by Lucas Metcalfe and Brady Parrish put the game away for Delphos.
Whiteside finished with 15 points and was the lone Commodore to break the double-digit barrier.
“Perry is going to win a lot of basketball games,” Elwer said. “Jamal Whiteside is one of the better players in our area. They play a style of basketball we don’t see in our area. I think for it being the first game we handled some things really, really well.”
Even though Perry’s pressure allowed the Commodores to comeback in the second half, Elwer said he was proud of how his players kept their composure especially down the stretch.
“We took a jab there in the third quarter when they started to impose their will,” Elwer said. “We were able to make some winning plays at the end and some free throws and this is a great win.”
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