DELPHOS — It was the pace Delphos St. John’s wanted to play.
Every time Ottoville pulled out to a small lead, St. John’s responded.
That is, until late in the third quarter.
Once the game was knotted at 32 apiece midway through the third quarter, St. John’s started to misfire at the offensive end.
In the fourth quarter, St. John’s went ice cold, making just 1 of 10 shots from the field.
Ottoville capitalized on St. John’s shooting woes and pulled away for a 57-44 girls basketball victory at Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium in a Saturday night nonconference encounter.
With the win, Ottoville improves to 18-3. St. John’s slips to 13-7.
Kasey Knippen led Ottoville with 15 points and seven rebounds. Quinley Schlagbaum scored 11 points, including a perfect 4 for 4 shooting at the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Nicole Knippen added eight points and three steals for the Big Green.
Hannah Will led St. John’s and all scorers with 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Will also pulled down five rebounds. Paige Gaynier scored 14 points, including three 3-pointers.
“We had some adversity in there,” longtime Ottoville coach Dave Kleman said. “When Haley (Hoersten, four points and four assists) and Nicole (Knippen) got into foul trouble, they sat most of the second quarter. I thought Alexis (Honigford, seven points and four boards), Kylee (Hoersten, two points and six rebounds) and Tori (Thomas, five points and four rebounds) came in and gave us some really good minutes off the bench. So, that was big for us. Maybe that helps us for the tournament – that we build our bench a little more.”
Last season, Ottoville lost to Minster in the Division IV state championship game, 63-48. The Big Green graduated three starters from that state runner-up squad.
On Saturday, the Big Green grabbed the lead and took control, early on.
Ottoville slipped out with a 16-11 lead by the end of the first quarter. Kasey Knippen led Ottoville with eight points. Ottoville shot well in the opening stanza, hitting 8 of 14 shots from the field. The Blue Jays connected on 4 of 7 from the floor.
St. John’s turned the ball over seven times in the first eight minutes of action.
But St. John’s battled back.
Early in the second quarter, the Blue Jays knotted the game at 16, on a layup by Melanie Koenig (six points).
Two minutes later, St. John’s claimed the lead, 21-20, on a 3-pointer by Gaynier.
However, Ottoville responded with a 6-1 run and pushed out to a 26-22 lead by the halftime break.
Will and Gaynier led the Blue Jays in the first half with eight points each.
St. John’s came out strong in the second half.
The Blue Jays knotted the contest at 32 apiece, on a fast-break layup by Koenig, nearly midway through the period.
However, Ottoville finished the quarter with a 10-4 run to come away with a 42-36 lead by the third stop.
In the final eight minutes of action, St. John’s went ice cold from the field, making just one field goal. Ottoville closed it out at the foul line, hitting 9 of 14 in the fourth quarter.
“That was our pace and that’s what we expected to happen in the second half (a close game). But it (shooting) just dried up,” St. John’s coach Nate Stant said.
For the game, St. John’s connected on 31 percent of its field goal attempts. Ottoville shot 41 percent from the field.
Ottoville turned the ball over 10 times, while St. John’s turned it over 17 times on the night.
Ottoville held the edge on the boards, 36-25.
“I was happy with that,” Kleman said about his team’s performance on the boards. “But they (St. John’s) did a great job too. They were boxing out. They’re a very good team. It was a good thing that we were on the winning side of it.”
Betty Vorst, who came into Saturday’s contest averaging 13.4 points per game for St. John’s, was held to just six points.
“You really cannot concentrate on just one of their kids, because they all can shoot the ball,” Kleman said. “So, we were trying to help, but we knew we were going to give up some things. We gave up a couple threes, here and there. But overall, I was pretty satisfied.”
Added Stant, “We turned it over too much in the first half, but in the second half we took care of the basketball. We got some good looks. We got to the free throw line. We just shot a low percentage tonight.”
The 1978-79 Delphos St. John’s girls’ basketball team that won the AA state title with a perfect 26-0 record, was honored before the start of Saturday’s varsity game.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.