MINSTER — Delphos St. John’s came away with a close, early-season conference win Friday night as they hit the road and took on the Minster Wildcats. It held a marquee matchup between 6-foot-8-inch centers; senior Tim Kreeger for the Blue Jays and sophomore Jarod Schulze for the Wildcats.

The night went in favor of Kreeger as he led Delphos with 24 points and helped them pull out a nail-bitter, 44-41.

“Anytime, on a Friday night, that you win in our league, it’s a great win,” Blue Jays head coach Aaron Elwer said afterwards. “To win on the road is even better because it’s tough. We like to learn from winning, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to use this experience, winning a close game on the road, to get better. We’ll get back to work tomorrow and begin preparation for LCC on Sunday.”

The opening bucket was scored on Minster’s first possession by senior Aaron Ernst. However, from that point, the Blue Jays would go on a 15-0 run. It was a run that extended through the first quarter, and into the first 3 minutes of the second quarter. Over that time, St. John’s was crashing the boards relentlessly, their on-ball and off-ball pressure was fierce, their overall intensity was maxed throughout the first half which, in large, sent them into halftime up 24-13.

Although, their lead may have also been aided by the fact that Minster’s Schulze picked up two quick fouls within the game’s first couple of minutes which sat him on the bench for the remainder of the first quarter. He re-entered the game briefly in the second quarter, but another quick foul sent him to the bench with no points and no attempted shots.

“It was a big deal,” Coach Elwar said about Schulze’s early foul trouble. “It was 6-8 versus 6-8. Once that went in our favor, we had a big advantage. We had gameplanned for him all week, and I’m sure they did as well for him to guard our big. Anytime that you can get a critical player in foul trouble early, that’s a big advantage.”

Minster came out of the half with the intensity that you would expect from a team trailing by 11 on their homecourt. They momentarily adjusted from their man-to-man defense into a 2-3 zone which initially seemed to cause difficulty for the Blue Jays, and they also seemed to be trying to increase the speed at which the game was being played.

The half-court style favored the Blue Jays with the comfortability of being able to drop the ball down on the block to Kreeger, and by picking the speed up, they began to cause some confusion defensively on the part of St. John’s. All the while, it only amounted to them cutting into the Jays lead by two.

Going into the fourth quarter, a Blue Jay victory seemed imminent, but as is the case on so many occasions it came down to their ability to make free throws. Overall on the night, St. John’s shot horrendously from the foul line, as a team they shot a meager 35 percent, which nearly cost them the game.

With the game winding down, several times a Blue Jays player went to the foul line with an opportunity to extend what was only a 3-point lead. In the bonus, on two separate occasions St. John’s missed the free throw and with 5.2 seconds remaining, they required one final defensive stand to take the game home. Minster inbounded the ball into the corner after a timeout, the ball was handed off for the game-tying 3-point shot, but the ball didn’t drop as the Blue Jays held on for the 44-41 victory.

***

ST. JOHN’S (44)

Robby Saine 2-3 0-0 6, Tim Kreeger 10-22 4-10 24, Jared Wurst 1-4 0-2 3, Richard Cocuzza 1-3 0-0 2, Josh Warnecke 1-2 1-2 3, Owen Rode 1-2 0-1 2, Connor Hulihan 1-2 0-0 3, Collin Will 0-2 1-2 1

MINSTER (41)

Isaac Schmiesing 2-4 0-0 5, Alex Lehmkuhl 0-0 0-1 0, Bryce Schmiesing 2-5 1-1 5, Mike Ketner 0-5 0-0 0, Andrew Broering 2-6 0-0 6, Jared Huelsman 2-3 5, Aaron Ernst 3-10 1-2 8, Cody Frericks 1-1 0-0 2, Jarod Schulze 5-8 0-1 10, Isaac Dorsten 0-2 0-0 0

DSJ 13 11 10 10 – 44

Minster 2 11 12 16 – 41

3-point field goals: DSJ 4-12 (Saine 2) Min 5-17 (Broering 2); Rebounds: DSJ 30 Min 19; Assists: DSJ 9 Min 7; Fouls: DSJ 14 Min 19; Turnovers: DSJ 8 Min 10