A trio of Van Wert Cougar defenders swat the ball away from Delphos St. John’s Jessica Recker in a game at St. John’s High School Tuesday evening. The Lady Cougars fell to the host Lady Jays 41-29. (Times Bulletin/Tom Morris)
A trio of Van Wert Cougar defenders swat the ball away from Delphos St. John’s Jessica Recker in a game at St. John’s High School Tuesday evening. The Lady Cougars fell to the host Lady Jays 41-29. (Times Bulletin/Tom Morris)

By JIM METCALFE

Times Bulletin Correspondent

sports@timesbulletin.com

DELPHOS - Both St. John's and Van Wert played solid defense Tuesday night in a girls basketball non-conference tussle at Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium.

The host Lady Blue Jays managed to put together two major runs to lift themselves to a 41-29 victory.

"We've been looking for consistency all season and it's slowly coming along. We have our moments when we really move the ball well and find the open person," St. John's mentor Dan J. Grothouse began. "At other times, we fall back into the possessions where we only have two passes and get out of sync. Still, we're getting better at doing that for longer stretches. We also did it against a very physical team."

For Van Wert coach Lance Moonshower, it's a work in progress.

"We're still trying to find the right combinations. We've got so many new faces in the lineup, even our juniors don't have a lot of varsity time up to this year," Moonshower explained. "It's obvious we're not there yet, and we as coaches have to keep working to put the right people in the right positions. I told the girls after the game that we have to strive to improve game to game."

The Lady Cougars (1-2) and their extended defense tossed a shutout for the first 4:59 of the contest but they also didn't score for the first 3:15. A putback by junior Hannah Hulbert at 4:45 and a deuce by sophomore Alexis Dowdy at the four-minute mark put Van Wert up 4-0. Dowdy did pick up her second foul at 3:16 and was banished to the bench for the rest of the half. A 19-footer by junior Brooke Zuber at 3:01 jump-started the blue-and-gold on their way. Senior Jessica Recker poured in three baskets down the stretch of the period, along with a three-point play the old-fashioned way, as the Jays built an 11-4 edge on Recker's jumper from the block with 6.3 ticks on the board.

The Jays canned 5-of-8 from the floor in the period to 2-of-8 for the Lady Cougars .

The Blue Jay man-to-man defense continued its scoreless streak well into the second quarter in building a 20-4 advantage on a transition layin by freshman Sydney Fischbach. Junior Emilie Moonshower broke the Lady Cougar drought on a triple from the right wing, by sophomore Erin Morrow a 23-footer and 19-footer, junior Cheyenne Handy a long two-pointer and then Morrow two singles with 7.9 ticks on the board to get the visitors within 20-16.

Junior Erica Saine hit a trifecta at 6:58 to break the hosts' drought. Handy answered with a basket at 6:36 but the Jays then went on a 7-0 spurt to take a 30-18 edge on a trey by sophomore Rebekah Fischer midway through the stanza. Dowdy hit the first of two tosses at 2:39 and two more at 1:42 to stop the bleeding temporarily. The Jays ran off the last seven, capped by a three-ball by Saine from the left wing with 10 ticks showing for a 37-21 scoreboard.

Fischbach and senior Katie Vorst (9 points) picked up their third fouls late in the canto.

Neither team could dent the scoreboard in the fourth period until Morrow hit a single at 3:47, while the Jays scored their first tally at 2:13 on a Vorst free toss. The closest the Lady Cougs could get was 12 points at 38-26 on a three-point play by Morrow. At Vorst hit the hoop-and-the-harm at 38.6 seconds, the final score as junior Jenna Weigle netted a trey.

Van Wert netted 8-of-14 tosses (57.1%); secured 23 misses; and added 23 turnovers and 13 fouls.

St. John's finished 3-of-5 at the line (60%); nabbed 22 rebounds; and totaled 21 errors and 18 fouls. Junior Emilie Fischbach added three assists and Zuber three steals.

"We've been playing solid defense so far. The girls are getting more comfortable in their roles on both ends," Grothouse added. "At times, we rebound very well and other times, we give up too many offensive rebounds. We're getting better at being in the right positions against pressure, where to make the cuts and make the passes. We've faced pressure in all four games and we'll continue to work on it."

Both teams start league races Thursday: St. John's at home versus Parkway (MAC) and Van Wert on the road at Ottawa-Glandorf (WBL).

"We played decent defense overall. I am proud of how we reacted in the second period; the only thing we did differently was better effort," Moonshower added. "What we preach to them is 32-minute great effort every game. I'll take holding a team to 41 points every game; you just aren't going to win scoring 29."

In junior varsity action, St. John's scored an 11-4 first-period lead and went on to a 37-18 victory.

Sophomore Emilee Grothouse netted a game-high 14 for the Lady Jays (2-2), while sophomore Riley Jones countered with 10 for the Lady Cougars (0-3).



ST. JOHN'S (41)

Tara Vorst 0-0-0, Madison Zuber 0-0-0, Emilie Fischbach 0-0-0, Brooke Zuber 1-0-2, Rebekah Fischer 3-0-7, Katie Vorst 3-3-9, Erica Saine 3-0-8, Jessica Recker 6-0-13, Sydney Fichbach 1-0-2. Totals 13-4-3/5-41.

Score by Quarters:

Van Wert 4 12 5 8 - 29

St. John's 11 9 17 4 - 41

Three-point goals: Van Wert, Moonshower, Morrow, Wiegle; St. John's, Saine 2, Recker, Fischer.