Jason Luth of Parkway lays the ball up against St. John's on Friday night. (DHI Media/Pat Agler)
Jason Luth of Parkway lays the ball up against St. John's on Friday night. (DHI Media/Pat Agler)

ROCKFORD —Parkway and Delphos St. John’s came into Friday night’s game tied for second place in the MAC, so it promised to be a good one — and it was. The Panthers (13-6, 5-2) shot lights out, and the Blue Jays (12-5, 4-3) did not, allowing Parkway to escape with a big 67-57 win.

Versailles (8-0, 19-1) clinched the outright MAC title Friday with a 46-35 win over Coldwater, leaving Parkway, Delphos St. John’s, Fort Recovery (5-3, 14-3), and Minster (4-3, 12-6) to battle it out for the runner-up spot. Parkway’s remaining conference games are at New Knoxville (0-7, 2-17) next Friday and home to Minster the following Friday.

“That’s definitely a game that we don’t win earlier in the year,” said Parkway coach Doug Hughes. “We played really well together against a high-quality opponent. You can’t say enough about Delphos St. John’s and the way they’re coached. They’re a tough bunch, but we were able to rise to the occasion and make plays when we had to.”

Panther senior Caleb Kinney started the scoring with a straightaway 3-pointer, and the Jays never caught up. During the first quarter, Parkway hit 7 of 9 from the field while Delphos was landing only 3 of 11. The Blue Jays stayed close by hitting all six of their free throw attempts, every one of them by junior Isaac Fairchild. It was 18-13, Parkway, after one.

The Panthers’ hot shooting continued in the second quarter, during which they missed only once out of seven field goal tries. St. John’s heated up and kept it close, once narrowing the gap to one at 27-26. Parkway junior Dylan Hughes scored in a variety of ways, racking up 10 second quarter points to keep the hosts up 33-29 at the half.

Parkway was a red-hot 13 of 16 from the field during the first 16 minutes, and Hughes already had 16 points. Fairchild had 11 for Delphos, and, amazingly, the Blue Jays didn’t have a single turnover.

Parkway stretched the lead to 11 at 46-35 late in the third quarter and held onto a 46-37 margin going into the fourth period, which turned out be a high scoring one.

Panther senior Gavin Stober started the final period with two straight triples to put Parkway up 52-37 with 7:10 left. Fairchild, however, was not giving up, scoring the next six points, and senior Brady Grothaus’s free throw then had the visitors within 52-44 at 4:53.

The Panthers seemed to have the game in hand leading 57-48 with 1:48 left, by which time Fairchild had fouled out. The Jays got as close as 59-54, but St. John’s was forced to foul, and Parkway hit all ten free throw attempts, eight of them by sophomore Caleb Slusher, in the last minute to fend off the challenge.

“We’re not turning the ball over, we’re getting really good shots,” said St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer. “We’re just not consistently finishing for stretches of the game. Tonight it was to start the game and really throughout the first half. Parkway’s solid. They’ve got enough offense to make you pay for any breakdown. We were constantly playing uphill from the get-go.”

Parkway ended up hitting 58 percent (21 of 36) from the field, Delphos 37 percent (18 of 49). Those numbers included 56 percent (5 of 9) from long range for the Panthers, 33 percent (6 of 18) for the Blue Jays.

Both teams were okay from the free throw line — Parkway 69 percent (20 for 29), St. John’s 68 percent (15 for 22). The Panthers dominated the boards 26-14, but the Jays had a remarkably low number of turnovers, four, the Panthers 14.

Hughes led all scorers with 24, and he got double-digit support from Kinney and Slusher with 16 and 10. The Blue Jays’ scoring leaders were Fairchild, senior Brady Parrish, and Grothaus with 21, 18, and 13.

Delphos St. John’s (57)

Isaac Fairchild 6-9 8-12 21, Matthew Kahny 1-3 0-0 3, Aiden Rode 0-7 0-0 0, Brady Parrish 6-16 4-4 18, Brady Grothaus 4-12 3-6 13, Adam Fischer 0-0 0-0 0, Jason Gillespie 0-0 0-0 0, Landon Elwer 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 18-49 15-22 57.

Parkway (67)

Corey Walls 1-1 0-0 2, Dylan Hughes 8-10 6-8 24, Caden Slusher 1-3 8-8 10, Nick Hawk 2-4 1-2 5, Caleb Kinney 5-14 5-11 16, Gavin Stober 2-2 0-0 6, Ryan Hesse 0-0 0-0 0, Jason Luth 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 21-36 20-29 67.

3-point shooting: DSJ 6/18 (Parrish 2, Grothaus 2, Fairchild, Kahn), PW 5/9 (Hughes 2, Stober 2, Kinney). Rebounds: DSJ 14, PW 26. Fouls: DSJ 19, PW 16. Turnovers: DSJ 4, PW 14.

St. John’s 13 16 8 20 - 57

Parkway 18 15 13 21 - 67

St. John’s won an action-packed jayvee game 43-40 on a straightaway buzzer-beating 3-pointer by sophomore JJ Bonifas. The Blue Jays (10-7) were led in scoring by freshmen Landen Grothaus and Nolan Schwinnen with 14 and 13. Parkway (10-9) was led by sophomores Gabe Schaff and Riley Samples with 10 and 9.

Junior varsity:

St. John’s 9 9 13 12 - 43

Parkway 11 12 7 10 - 40