DELPHOS – One team was a work in progress. The other was a team just getting to work.
Elida, playing its fifth game of the boys basketball season, took control in the second half to beat Delphos St. John’s 52-40 on Tuesday night in the Blue Jays’ season opener at the Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium.
Elida (3-2) got 19 points from Dakota Mathias, 13 from Louis Gray and 10 from Austin Allemeier. Ryan Koester scored 16 points to lead St. John’s (0-1) and Andy Grothouse and Eric Clark scored 10 points each.
The start of St. John’s season was delayed because of the Blue Jays football team advancing to the Division VII state semifinals.
Elida led 25-20 at halftime and never let St. John’s get any closer than five points the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs shot 53 percent on field goals (20 of 38) and had a 24-12 rebounding edge. But their defense was the first thing coach Denny Thompson talked about after the game.
He wanted to see some changes after a 63-62 loss to Defiance last Friday night.
“I was happy with our defensive improvement tonight. The last quarter and a half at Defiance they went 15 for 18,” Thompson said. “We had to get some stops in there somewhere (against Defiance). We didn’t sustain any kind of effort.
“I felt like we did better. The message was sent out and they kind of got the message we needed sustained effort,” he said.
St. John’s had a couple of early leads and still was within two points, 14-12, when Elida called a 30-second timeout, a minute and a half into the second quarter.
At that point in the game, Mathias and Gray, who had put in a couple of left-handed outside shots (he shoots right-handed), had scored all 14 of Elida’s points and had taken all but two of the Bulldogs’ shots.
In the next two minutes after the timeout, Allemeier scored inside, Marquevious Wilson drove for a hoop and Wilson took the ball to the basket again, scored and was fouled.
Taking the ball to the basket was emphasized during the timeout, Thompson said. “It was a point of emphasis before the game, too,” he said. “Our opponents are making more free throws than we’re shooting. We’re too content to stand around and shoot the basketball at times.”
St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer said, “It’s a tough game to start our season with but our attitude, our effort and our competitiveness were really good. If we continue doing those three things, I like our chances in a lot of games this year.
“As a coach, it’s a little scary. You have a little anxiety about what you’re going to get. I just told our guys to control the things they could, which was our effort and really competing and they did that. Our conditioning and skill work all that will come as we practice more and play more. When we get those things put together, we’re going to be OK,” he said.
Both teams got all their scoring from their starters and all but one of the shots in the game were attempted by the 10 players on the floor for the opening tip-off.
St. John’s shot 40 percent (15 of 37) and, after hitting two 3-pointers in the early going, made only one long-range shot in the final 24 1/2 minutes of the game.