HAMLER — Delphos St. John’s stepped it up on defense when it needed to the most.
Going into the final quarter, the Blue Jays and Miller City were tied at 30-30 with both teams playing smothering defense.
In the fourth quarter, Delphos upped its defensive pressure and held Miller City scoreless in the first six minutes of the final period to go on a 14-0 run and help secure a 46-34 victory for the Blue Jays in the Division IV sectional opener Tuesday night at Patrick Henry.
With the win Delphos (11-12) will face McComb (15-7) at Patrick Henry at 8 p.m. Thursday. Miller City ends its year with a 14-9 mark.
Delphos head coach Nate Stant said it wasn’t his team’s night offensively and was happy to see the defense come up big.
“Defensively we were locked in tonight,” Stant said. “(Natalie)Koenig is a great player and Abi Lammers is a great player… We had to grind it out and defensively we did. We switched it up a little bit and pressured their guards and did just enough offensively to get the win.”
The Blue Jays threw up a 1-3-1 and a 2-3 zone defense to frustrate and pressure the Wildcats, who were without the services of point guard Adrienne Kuhlman due to injury and the Wildcats struggled all night offensively.
“Unfortunately their point guard was out and I feel bad for them but it is something we knew we could take advantage of with our length and it worked out for us.”
Wildcat head coach Ross Heuerman said his team could not put it together down the stretch .
“Obviously we were playing with out our point guard and we were mixing and matching lineups and for three and three and a half quarters we stuck with them but they cranked up the pressure and they went on a run and we had some younger girls in there and things didn’t go our way from there.”
In the first three quarters, Miller City was controlling the boards and getting decent looks but the shots didn’t fall for them and that came back to haunt them.
“We tell our girls if you play really good offense and if you get the shot that you like and sometimes it goes in and sometimes it does not,” Heuerman said. “Tonight they made more shots than we did and that is what it came down to.”
In the fourth quarter, Delphos did not allow a Miller City point until 2:02 left in the game and the Wildcats’ lone bucket came with less than a minute left in the game.
Miller City’s Koenig was the top scorer for the Wildcats with nine points. Lammers, who finished with eight points, snared 12 rebounds on the night.
Offensively, Delphos’ Paige Gaynier found her rhythm in the fourth quarter and she scored the first seven points of the stanza to spearhead the Blue Jays’ offensive run. Gaynier finished with a game-high 19 points including nine in the fourth period.
Paige is a great player player offensively,” Stant said. “They had man-to-man on her with a tough match up and she found here way to get to the rim. She has worked all year on just getting on balance and finishing strong. She is a basketball player and made plays when it counted tonight.”
McComb 35, Leipsic 23
In another tight defensive struggle, McComb held off Leipsic 32-21 in the second game of the the night of the Division IV sectional.
McComb’s Malorie Schroeder paved the way for the Panthers with 15 points and Olivia Miehls finished with 10.
Leipsic’s Marisa Hermiller scored 10 points.
McComb grabbed the early 13-5 lead after one period and went into halftime up 20-13. The Panthers held a 28-19 lead going into the fourth period.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.