Girls basketball: Delphos Jefferson turns back Bluffton

DELPHOS – Early on, Delphos Jefferson’s shooting wasn’t quite on target in Thursday night’s key Northwest Conference girls basketball matchup against visiting Bluffton.

However, Delphos Jefferson’s defensive effort and its dominance on the boards helped pave the way for a convincing 46-29 victory.

“I can’t say enough about our defense, tonight,” Delphos Jefferson head coach Denise Lindeman said. “I just went into that locker room and said, ‘Girls, I’m so proud of you’.

“We preach defense, defense; and our girls came out and played really great defense. … Our defense was phenomenal. I can’t say enough about them. They work hard. They have great attitudes. It’s just a great bunch of girls.”

Lyv Lindeman, the coach’s daughter, led Delphos Jefferson (4-0, 2-0 NWC) and all scorers with 22 points. The junior standout also had nine rebounds and two steals. Rylynn Marquiss had 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Marquiss also came away with five boards and three steals. Hannah Wiltsie added nine points, two rebounds and two steals for the Wildcats.

Ayla Grandey, a 6-foot-2 sophomore post player, led Bluffton (4-2, 0-1 NWC) with 10 points and nine rebounds. Teammate Riley Eachus added eight points for the Pirates.

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Both teams struggled at the offensive end in the opening quarter.

Bluffton eventually slipped out with a 7-4 lead by the first stop. Delphos Jefferson was just 1 of 12 shooting from the field in the first quarter. Lindeman scored all four of Jefferson’s first-quarter points. Bluffton connected on just 2 of 7 of its field goal attempts.

Lindeman got the Wildcats off to a good start in the second quarter, scoring two quick field goals on breakaway layups to give her team an 8-7 lead.

That spurt seemed to jump-start Delphos Jefferson.

The Wildcats began to find their range.

In the second quarter, Delphos Jefferson canned three 3-pointers. Marquiss connected twice behind the arc, while Wiltsie had a 3-pointer.

By the halftime break, Delphos Jefferson led 22-15.

In the first half, Lindeman led Delphos Jefferson and all scorers with 11 points. She also had seven rebounds and two steals. Marquiss had eight points, four boards and two steals.

“Rylynn (Marquiss) is a pure shooter. … She can really shoot the ball,” Coach Lindeman said.

After the dismal first quarter, Delphos Jefferson was 7 of 14 shooting from the field in the second stanza. For the half, the Wildcats were 8 of 26 from the floor for 31-percent shooting. Bluffton was 4 of 17 from the floor for 24-percent shooting.

Bluffton looked to make a run, early in the second half.

An inside basket by Bluffton’s Samantha Scoles (four points, six rebounds) at the 3:18 mark of the third quarter, cut the deficit to 3, 28-25.

However, by the third stop, Delphos Jefferson led 34-25.

In the final eight minutes of action, Bluffton went cold from the field, making just 1 of 7 of its field goal attempts.

For the game, Delphos Jefferson shot 37 percent from the field. Bluffton connected on 28 percent of its field goal attempts.

Delphos Jefferson committed seven turnovers, while Bluffton turned the ball over 14 times on the night.

Delphos Jefferson won the battle on the boards, 29-23.

“They (Bluffton) did not get second and third shots,” Lindeman said. “They got one shot, and we boxed out and rebounded. We came out, rebounded and played defense. What a tremendous defensive battle, tonight.”

Bluffton head coach Eric Garmatter praised Delphos Jefferson on its defensive effort.

“They were going to make it hard on us to run our offense. They did a really good job on Sammy (Scoles), which forced us to run the offense through some other girls. We just didn’t handle the speed of the game. If we would have knocked some shots down, it would have made it a little easier. … But everything gets easier when you are scoring,” Garmatter said.

Mark Altstaetter wrote this story for The Lima News. Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.