DELPHOS — When Delphos St. John’s broke out to a quick 8-0 lead to open Friday night’s game against New Knoxville, it appeared the Blue Jays were going to cruise to an easy win.
But the resilient Rangers, led by Carson Bierlein, stayed within striking distance for three quarters until Delphos pulled away in the second half to garner the 47-31 victory in a Midwest Athletic Conference clash.
With the win, Delphos stays unbeaten at 8-0 overall and in the MAC at 2-0. New Knoxville falls to 0-2 in conference play and 2-6 for the season.
Delphos head coach Aaron Elwer said the team shot well at Crestview last Saturday, scoring 58 points, but the Blue Jays did not have the same shooting touch so it was nice to see the defense come through with the offense struggling.
“On those nights when the ball isn’t going in the rim you have to find other ways to win,” Elwer said. “We did that tonight, and it wasn’t pretty. I’m sure if the ball went in the rim everyone is happy and go-lucky, and we played great. And if we look at the film I’m sure we did do some good things except put the ball in the rim and that is coming from the coach’s perspective. There are some nights where we do put the ball in the rim and watch the tape and maybe we didn’t execute that well and the ball just went in the rim.”
Elwer added that New Knoxville’s zone defense played a role in the Blue Jays’ shooting woes, and he felt the team got stagnant at times.
“We kind of settled for some perimeter shots but I thought we got a little more aggressive in the second half going to the rim and going inside out so we adjusted a little bit to get us going there.”
New Knoxville head coach Mike Piatt said despite the loss his team is getting better.
“I knew we would have had a hard time winning tonight,” Piatt said. “I would have loved to win, of course, but I think we left a better team. We still still need to fix a couple of things but overall I was happy with our kids’ effort. We battled and we did some good things at times.”
Piatt added that he felt their zone defense did a good job on the highly explosive Blue Jays. He also pointed out that his team is still young.
“We have two sophomores on the floor and my running joke is that when half your team doesn’t have their driver’s license you are really young,” Piatt said.
The Blue Jays’ defense was instrumental in the victory as the offense had trouble finding its footing against the Rangers’ zone defense.
Delphos forced multitude turnovers, and it prevented the Rangers from making any serious runs.
The Blue Jays, who led throughout the game, led at halftime, 21-17, and in the third quarter, led by Aide Rode, spearheading the Delphos’ offense. Rode, who scored no points in the first two quarters, had 15 second half points with 12 of those coming in the third quarter.
Despite Rode’s offense, the Rangers were only down by 10 , 39-29, going into the final eight minutes. But neither team did much in the final stanza and two big 3’s by Rode and Isaac Fairchild, along with the Blue Jays’ defense was enough to secure the win.
Fairchild, who had four treys in the game, led the Blue Jays with 17 points.
In the fourth quarter, the Rangers managed two points.
Bierlein finished with 27 of New Knoxville’s 31 points. However, he was limited to two points in the fourth quarter.
“I thought Carson battled tonight and he is going to be a really good player for us,” Piatt said.
Reach Jose Nogueras AT 567-242-0468.