PAULDING – Delphos Jefferson girls head basketball coach Chrissy Billiter wanted to see her young squad do all the little things in Tuesday’s Division IV sectional semifinal game against Fort Jennings.
With only one upperclassman on the roster, this season has been a work in progress for Delphos Jefferson.
Billiter’s squad did just enough of the little things Tuesday to piece together a 48-35 victory over Fort Jennings at Paulding, to advance to Saturday’s sectional final against No. 2 seed Kalida (16-5). Tip-off is scheduled for 6:15 at Paulding.
Addy Stewart led Delphos Jefferson (8-14) and all scorers with 22 points, including three 3-pointers. Stewart, a junior, was 9 of 12 shooting from the free throw line. Stewart also came away with nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
“It’s not a big secret. … She’s been struggling a little bit,” Billiter said of Stewart. “But the nice thing about a true competitor is they can have one or two (bad) games, but then come out here in the biggest stage and play well. She had that momentum tonight. She had that drive. I haven’t seen that for a while. As soon as she made her first three and smiled, I knew.”
Delphos Jefferson freshman Aly Lindeman, scored 15 points, including a perfect 8 of 8 shooting from the foul line. Lindeman also came away with seven boards. Freshman Josie McGue had 10 points and eight boards for the Wildcats.
As a team Tuesday night, Delphos Jefferson was an impressive 21 of 25 shooting from the foul line (84 percent).
“This game came down to two things,” Billiter said. “Rebounding, we needed it. We didn’t do it all the time. But, when we needed that one rebound, it seemed like we got it. And our foul shooting. … That was our best foul shooting of the season.”
Delphos Jefferson held the slight edge on the boards, 40-35.
Kristen Luersman led Fort Jennings (7-15) with 21 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Both teams struggled from the field. For the game, Jefferson shot 28 percent from the floor. Fort Jennings connected on 24 percent of its field goal attempts.
“That’s been our problem all year – other than Kristen (Luersman) – getting someone else to step up and do that (score) for us,” Fort Jennings head coach Bill Calvelage said. “That’s one of our keys for the offseason – to figure out how to get
the ball in the hole at a little higher percentage. If we can do that, we’re going to play with people. We have the heart and desire to battle with people.”
It was a lackluster first quarter.
Delphos Jefferson came away with a 9-4 lead by the first stop. Fort Jennings made just 2 of 16 shots from the floor. Delphos Jefferson was 3 of 11 from the floor. Stewart led the Wildcats with seven first-quarter points.
Delphos Jefferson led 19-15 at the halftime break. The Wildcats were just 1 of 13 shooting from the floor in the second quarter. However, Delphos Jefferson got to the foul line often in the second quarter, hitting 7 of 8 of its shots.
Stewart led Delphos Jefferson with 10 points in the first 16 minutes of action. Luersman led Fort Jennings with 10 first-half points, including a perfect 4 for 4 shooting at the charity stripe in the second stanza. Luersman also came away with five rebounds and had two big blocks in the first half.
Delphos Jefferson started to find its range in the third quarter, connecting three times behind the arc. The Wildcats stretched their lead to 9, 33-24, by the third stop. Stewart scored six points in that eight-minute stretch.
The Musketeers got as close as seven points in the fourth quarter. However, the Wildcats made 8 of 10 from the charity stripe to pull away.
For the game, Delphos Jefferson turned the ball over 26 times. Fort Jennings turned it over 18 times.
“We ended our regular season with a pretty brutal schedule,” Billiter said. “We had Ottoville, Spencerville, Bluffton and Columbus Grove. I said (to the team), ‘I’m not a big win/loss person, but you had better always give effort’. That’s been our theme for probably the last three games. That’s all I care about (effort). Tonight, we showed a lot of effort. Tonight was nothing big. It was all the little things. All the little things came together, exactly when we needed them.”
Crestview led from start to finish, en route to the convincing win over Continental on Tuesday night.
With the victory, Crestview (15-6) will face No. 3 seed Wayne Trace (19-3) in a sectional final at 8 p.m. Saturday at Paulding.
Continental ends its season 4-18.
Bailey Gregory led Crestview with 18 points, including six 3-pointers. Lexi Gregory scored 16 points, including two shots behind the arc. Olivia Cunningham added 11 points for the Knights.
Madi Sharp and Keri Prowant each had seven points for Continental.
Crestview led 16-7 by the end of the first quarter. The Knights went into the locker room at halftime with a 28-14 advantage. In the third quarter, Crestview stretched its lead to 45-20.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.