Lincolnview’s Kyle Williams puts up a shot in a game against Delphos Jefferson at Lincolnview High School Friday. The Lancers defeated the Jeffcats 49-43. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
BY BRIAN BASSETT
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
MIDDLE POINT - The Lincolnview Lancer and Delphos Jefferson Wildcat basketball teams met Friday night at Lincolnview High School for a Northwest Conference matchup, with both teams riding losing skids.
The game was close throughout, but the Lancers pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 49-43 win.
"Coming in and getting a win was huge on our own floor," said Lincolnview coach Brett Hammons. "I told our guys going in it was going to be a tough game... It wasn't our best shooting performance, but we found a way to get it done."
The Lancers were led by a game-high 23 points from junior point guard Kyle Williams. Williams connected on 9-of-13 shots, including 5-of-7 from three-point range.
"It took a while in this season to get adjusted to what we are doing. But these last six or seven games (Kyle) has been leading us. He's been leading us as a scorer and that's what we need him to do, and also be a floor leader. His shots are huge and he's starting to shoot with more confidence," explained Hammons of Williams.
Jefferson coach Marc Smith credited the Lancers with closing the game out strong. "Lincolnview's got a nice basketball team. Their guards are very, very good. Give them a lot of credit. They made some plays from that five-minute mark to about that two-minite mark (of the fourth quarter). We had a couple of defensive breakdowns on the high ball screen, and they made us pay for it."
The Jeffcats were without the services of junior forward Ross Thompson, who was out with injury, and Smith admitted the team missed him on the floor.
"We're like a Mash unit in there (the locker room). We came out tonight and we didn't have Ross Thompson, who is an All-Northwest Conference performer. We're on the road and we're starting two freshmen and a sophomore... Ross does a lot of things for us," he said.
Thanks to a pair of early threes from Williams, the Lancers grabbed a 14-13 lead after a quarter of play. Senior guard Zach Ricker and freshman forward Trey Smith got four points each in the first frame for the Wildcats, which was a sign of things to come for Jefferson.
The teams fought to a relatively even second quarter, in which Lincolnview shot 3-of-17, but Jefferson couldn't counter due to seven turnovers in the stretch. Smith's four points in the second were good enough to pull the score to a 20-20 tie at halftime.
The Lancers took control of the game in the third quarter and found themselves leading 32-26 at the end of it. Lincolnview held Jefferson to one made field goal in the stanza.
"Our last few games we've had to go zone with the matchups," explained Hammons. "(Tonight) we stayed man, I would say, 95 percent of the game. They have a player in Smith, I told (the kids) he is good and we have to get after him. I put (senior forward) Mark Evans on him during the whole second half, and I thought he did a good job...
"I thought it might be our best defensive performance we've had."
Jefferson drew as close as three, 37-34, but Lincolview held Jefferson off down the stretch thanks to seven Williams points and a 6-of-8 team mark from the free-throw line.
"(Jefferson) took us out of some things - give them credit. But we found a way down the stretch. We made some shots in the fourth quarter. I was pleased our defense came up and got some stops. I'm just pleased with the effort (the kids) gave," continued Hammons.
Despite the loss, Smith and Ricker turned in nice performances for Delphos. Smith tallied 17 points, going 7-of-12 from the field. Ricker shot 5-of-10 en route to a 15-point performance.
"Trey was really good. They were face guarding him, sending double and triple teams at him, and he was still finding a way to get the ball in the hole. Zach Ricker was able to benefit from that a little bit because (Lincolnview) was sending so many people strong-side that (Zach) was able to drive the weak side.
"I think (junior point guard) Austin Jettinghoff grew up a lot. He's always had a little bit of a crutch, to go back to Ross, he didn't have that tonight," added Smith.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, no other player added more than four points. Smith attributed part of that to young players getting new playing time due to injuries.
"Tonight was like a first game for us because we had kids playing different roles. I though we competed and went toe-to-toe the entire ball game," Smith said.
Along with Williams' 23 points, sophomore guard Justis Dowdy chipped in 12 points for the Lancers.
"At first we were starting to figure out roles, but as the season has gone along, I think (Justis) understands that he has to score some for us," said Hammons. "It's not a one-man team. We need guys to step up, and I think he's getting a lot more comfortable."
The loss drops the Wildcats to 3-10 on the season and 1-4 in NWC play.
With the win, Lincolnview improves to 4-10 on the season and 2-3 in NWC action.
JEFFERSON(2pt. 3pt. FT Pts.)
Jettinghoff 1-3 0-1 0-0 2, Ricker 4-8 1-2 4-5 15, Wollenhaupt 0-1 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 7-9 0-3 3-4 17, Hicks 1-3 0-0 1-1 3, Fitch 0-2 0-0 4-4 4, T. Mox 1-2 0-0 0-0 2.
Williams 4-6 5-7 0-1 23, Dowdy 5-7 0-1 2-4 12, Carey 2-9 0-2 0-0 4, Evans 0-5 1-2 0-0 3, McCleery 0-2 0-0 4-4 4, Ludwig 1-5 0-0 0-0 2, Leeth 0-0 0-0 1-2 1.
Jefferson 13 7 6 17 - 43
Lincolnview 14 6 12 17 - 49