DELPHOS — Elida’s second-half man-to-man brought the Bulldogs back.
But Delphos St. John’s wouldn’t let this one get away.
St. John’s held on for a 54-52 boys basketball victory over Elida on Saturday night at Robert Arnzen Gymnasium.
St. John’s led by nine at the half and by nine midway through the third quarter.
But Elida’s man defense got steals and helped the Bulldogs come back to tie game at 52 on Devon Barnett’s backcourt steal and layup with 29 seconds to go.
The Blue Jays came right back down and Brady Grothaus’ layup gave St. John’s the lead to stay 54-2 with 21 seconds to play.
Elida got one final shot, but Riley Creps missed a corner 3-pointer with one second to go and Grothaus came away with the rebound.
“There were three options (on the final shot),” Elida coach Denny Thompson said.
The first two were to roll inside to Barnett or Moore.
But when those were sealed off, the ball went back to Creps in the right corner.
Elida, which was coming off an overtime victory over Spencerville on Friday, is 2-2.
St. John’s is 3-0.
“We like to learn from winning,” St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer said. “Give our guys credit. We had a lead, but we couldn’t get it above nine. And give them credit. They kept fighting back and making big shots.’’
The Blue Jays were led by Brady Parrish’s 19 points and eight rebounds.
Aiden Rode had 13 points and three 3-pointers.
Landon Elwer came off the bench and had 10 points with a pair of 3-pointers.
St. John’s won the boards 28-20.
“That (rebounding) was a point of emphasis,” Elwer said.
For Elida, Quan Moore was coming off sickness on Friday and bounced back with 19 points. He had 17 of those in the second half.
Riley Creps had eight points with two 3-pointers. Devon Barnett had five points and five rebounds.
Tyler Long had six points with two 3-pointers.
With Elida playing on Friday, Thompson played the first half in a 3-2 zone.
“Coming off Friday, that was one reason we went to a zone was to conserve a little bit of energy,” Thompson said. “I had planned to go man in the second half.’’
St. John’s took advantage of the zone and continually drove the lane to the basket.
St. John’s led 16-10 after the first quarter and 31-22 at the half.
By halftime, the Blue Jays had 12 baskets. Nine of those were layups and the other three came via 3-pointers.
The Blue Jays had a 12-10 lead late in the first quarter when the ripped off an 11-3 burst.
That gave St. John’s a 23-13 lead with 4:55 left before halftime.
During that run, Parrish had three driving layups.
“They had not shown a 3-2 zone all year,” Elwer said. …. “But I think our kids handled it pretty well. The goal against a zone is to find a way to get inside of it.’’
Elida went man-to-man in the second half, with an occasional press and the Bulldogs forced 11 second-half turnovers by St. John’s. The Blue Jays had 14 turnovers for the game.
“We had some inconsistency of taking care of the ball,” Elwer said. “The goal is to be consistent and right now we aren’t consistent in a lot of areas. But it’s only game three.’’
Leading the comeback for Elida was Moore, who had nine third-quarter points.
But St. John’s still led 42-33 with 1:55 left in the third.
Riley Fricke sank a 3-pointer to get Elida within 42-36 after three quarters.
Moore opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back backcourt steals and layups.
Suddenly, Elida was within 42-40 with 6:58 to play.
It remained close to the end, but Elida was never able to pull ahead.
Elida shot 44 percent from the field and was 6 of 14 on 3-pointers.
St. John’s shot 50 percent from the field and was 4 of 16 on threes.
Of St. John’s 21 overall baskets, 14 were layups.
“The positive was our effort in the second half,” Thompson said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.