Lincolnview’s Kyle Williams brings the ball up the court in transition after a steal in a game sectional final game at Van Wert High School Friday. The Lancers fell to the Delphos St. John’s Blue Jays 59-40. (Times Bulletin/Brian Bassett)
Lincolnview’s Kyle Williams brings the ball up the court in transition after a steal in a game sectional final game at Van Wert High School Friday. The Lancers fell to the Delphos St. John’s Blue Jays 59-40. (Times Bulletin/Brian Bassett)

BY JIM COX

Times Bulletin Correspondent

sports@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - Delphos St. John's canned four three-pointers in the last four minutes of the second quarter to pull away from Lincolnview and win Friday night's Division IV sectional final 59-40. The Blue Jays (17-5) will play New Bremen (also 17-5) in Tuesday night's first district semifinal at 6:15. The Lancers' season ends at 10-14.

It was a dandy, intense battle for the first 11 minutes. There were three ties and three lead changes in the first quarter, but the Jays ended that period with a 6-0 run on layups by Andy Grothouse, Ryan Buescher, and Curtis Geise to lead 12-8. Buescher extended that run to 8-0 with two free throws to begin the second stanza. Lincolnview sophomore Justis Dowdy ended that string with his specialty, a twisting layup. That started a trading of buckets including a Blue Jay Seth Bockey layup, two free throws by Lancer Nick Leeth, a pull-up elbow jumper by Geise, and a reverse layup by Dowdy to make it 18-14, Delphos, at the 5:33 mark.

That, however, was the point at which the game started to get away from Lincolnview. Delphos's Eric Clark put back his own blocked shot, and Ryan Koester scored on a runout. Lancer Kade Carey drained a trey from the left wing to cut it to 22-17, but then came the Blue Jay three-point barrage. The triples came from Grothouse, Geise, Koester, and Koester again, and the lead was 36-21 at the half.

In those first 16 minutes, Lincolnview actually out-shot the Jays, percentage wise, 56 percent (9 of 16) to 50 percent (14 of 28).However, Delphos had many more shots, courtesy of a 12-4 rebounding margin and only two turnovers, compared to the Lancers' seven.

When the Blue Jays started the second half with a 10-2 run, there was little doubt about the eventual outcome.

"We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I give credit to Lincolnview for doing that," said Blue Jay coach Aaron Elwer. "They came out with great effort, a good game plan. It took us a little bit to get going, but once we got going...our team is really starting to develop as a defensive unit and really making it difficult for teams. I think our physicality, our ability to rebound took over. Then our stretch there offensively where we started to make shots, we were able to extend our lead."

"They've played hard for me for 24 games," said Lancer coach Brett Hammons. "I've never once questioned their effort. They got after it. We played a good quarter and a half to start the basketball game, getting loose balls, making shots. We played them pretty tough. We contested them, they just made shots, and when you get down against a team as good as Delphos St. John's, it's tough to come back."

St. John's won all of the statistical battles, except for turnovers - 16 for Lincolnview, 17 for the Jays (eight in the ragged fourth quarter). Delphos shot 47 percent (22 of 47) from the field, Lincolnview 38 percent (16 of 41). The Blue Jays hit 83 percent (10 of 12) of their free throws, the Lancers 70 percent (7 of 10). St. John's dominated the boards 30-16.

Ten Jays got into the scoring column, led by Geise, Buescher, and Koester with 16, 10, and 10. Leeth had 12 for the Lancers.

It was the final high school basketball game for Lancer seniors Leeth, Carey, Mark Evans, Brooks Ludwig, and Angelo Katalenas. "Those five seniors are the leaders of the team," said Hammons. "I've been with 'em for six years, since seventh grade. It's nice to have that kind of character to lead this team, to get them to play that hard. Knowing that I'll never have the opportunity to coach them again is extremely difficult."



Score by quarters:

Delphos St. John's 12 24 12 11 - 59

Lincolnview 8 13 7 12 - 40

Delphos St. John's (59)

Buescher 4 2-2 10, Clark 1 0-0 2, Koester 4 0-0 10, Geise 6 2-2 16, Bockey 1 1-2 3, Grothouse 3 0-0 7, Wrasman 0 0-0 0, Hellman 0 0-0 0, Fischbach 1 0-0 2, Hays 0 5-6 5, Conley 1 0-0 2, Csukker 1 0-0 2, Odenweller 0 0-0 0, Heiing 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 10-12 59.

Lincolnview (40)

Nick Leeth 4 4-4 12, Carey 1 0-0 3, Williams 4 0-1 8, Dowdy 3 0-0 6, McCleery 0 1-2 1, Evans 2 0-0 4, Brooks Ludwig 2 1-1 5, Hayden Ludwig 0 1-2 1, Austin Leeth 0 0-0 0, Katalenas 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Farmer 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 7-10 40.

Three-point field goals: Delphos St. John's 5 (Koester 2, Geise 2, Grothouse), Lincolnview 1 (Carey).