DELPHOS -- Marion Local played a near-perfect first quarter Monday night at the Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium, and that proved to be enough -- barely. The Lady Flyers held off a furious fourth quarter Delphos St. John's rally, hitting free throws at the end for a 41-35 win. Marion Local is now 11-9 overall and 4-4 in the Midwest Athletic Conference. The Lady Blue Jays are 10-11 and 2-6.

The visitors had a seemingly comfortable 32-19 lead at the end of three -- seemingly comfortable because the Jays previously had had no luck penetrating the sticky man-to-man defense of the bigger stronger Flyers. Delphos, however, began immediately to cut into the lead. Over the next seven minutes, the Jays went on a 12-2 run, capped by a put-back from sophomore Betty Vorst -- 34-31, Marion Local, with 1:09 left in the game.

Then, however, it became a matter of whether or not the Flyers could hit free throws, which they did -- 7 of 10 in that remaining time to hold off the Blue Jays. Delphos actually got within two at 37-35 on two Vorst free throws with 16 seconds left, but Flyer sophomore Natalie Rethman, who was sensational all night long, then hit all four of her free throws to seal it.

"I thought the second half our kids did a great job defensively on them, especially their big kids," said St. John's coach Dan J. Grothouse. "I know 12 (Rethman) got away from us because we were so focused on the inside taking that away. We just didn't get any offense rolling until the fourth quarter when we felt that urgency that we needed to score. Give credit to our kids. We didn't quit. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game late."

Marion Local led 17-6 after one quarter, thanks to 6-of-10 field goal shooting, including 3 of 4 from long range. The Flyers had no turnovers during those eight minutes, out-rebounded the Blue Jays 6-3, and hit both of their free throws. Rethman had 8 points and senior Macey Griesdorn had 7 after one.

"The first quarter they got us on our heals," said Grothouse. "They caught us napping a little bit. They came out, they were hitting shots, they were cutting, and we weren't doing what we needed to do. As the game went on we started to feel more of a sense of urgency."

Delphos started the second quarter with a 9-2 run, featuring three dandy drives through the lane by senior Madilynn Schulte -- 19-15, Flyers, with 2:42 left in the half. However, Marion Local squelched that rally by scoring the last four points of the half -- 23-15 after two.

The Lady Flyers continued their domination in the third quarter, with Rethman leading a 9-2 run with 7 points -- 32-17, Marion Local, with 25 seconds left. A Vorst layup off of an assist by sophomore point guard Hayleigh Bacome closed the gap to 32-19 after three.

Statistically, there was not much difference between the two teams -- except for the number of free throws attempted -- 16 by the Flyers (12 makes) and 2 by the Jays (both good). Marion Local was a bit better from the field -- 43 percent (13 of 30) to 38 percent (15 of 39) -- including a better 3-point percentage -- 43 percent (3 of 7) to 25 percent (3 of 12). The visitors won the boards 16-15. The home team had fewer turnovers, 9-10.

Only four players scored for Marion Local, led by Rethman with 24 and Griesdorn with 9. Vorst and senior Jessica Geise led St. John's with 11 and 9.

Freshman Leah Hays swished a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Blue Jay junior varsity a 25-22 win. Delphos St. John's had only five players dressed for that game, so it lasted only two quarters. Hays had 17 of the Jays' 25 points. Freshman Kelsey Koenig had 9 for Marion Local.

Marion Local (41)

Chloe Bertke 0, Natalie Rethman 24, Kara Evers 4, Macey Griesdorn 9, Sarah Fesenmyer 4, Jessie Kramer 0, Emily Kahlig 0, Emily Nietfeld 0 Morgan Heckman 0.

Delphos St. John's (35)

Hayleigh Bacome 3, Taylor Zuber 2, Madilynn Schulte 6, Betty Vorst 11, Jessica Geise 9, Ellie Csukker 4, Hannah Bockey 0.

Marion Local            17    6    9    9    -    41

St. John's                6    9    4    16    -    35

3-point field goals: ML - 3/7 (Rethman 2, Griesdorn), DSJ - 3/12 (Bacome, Vorst, Geise). Rebounds: ML - 16, DSJ - 15. Fouls: ML - 8, DSJ - 15. Turnovers: ML - 10, DSJ - 9. Jayvee score: DSJ 25-22 (two quarters).