DELPHOS — Close but no cigar would be the best description for the Lima Central Catholic girls in their match-up Thursday night with Delphos St. John’s at the Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium.
The T-Birds dug a deep early hole, were able to tie the game late, but the Blue Jays responded to take a 48-44 victory in girls basketball action.
Delphos sprinted out to a 14-5 lead after the first quarter of play thanks to pounding the ball inside plus hitting a couple of timely 3-point baskets.
Taylor Zuber hit a trey to open the second stanza to push the lead to 17-5 before the T-Birds defense stiffened and LCC (1-2) slowly worked itself back into the game.
After holding University of Findlay bound Madison Stolly to three first stanza points, Stolly broke loose for 11 points in the second quarter and the T-Birds climbed back to within 25-20 going to the halftime break.
“Their defense picked it up in the second quarter and got them back into the game,” Delphos coach Dan Grothouse said. “They did a great job of contesting shots.”
The two teams battled evenly in the third period as each totaled 13 points to go to the final period with Delphos (2-0) holding the lead at 38-33.
Stolly had another solid quarter with nine points in the third stanza on her way to a game-high 31-point effort.
The T-birds would quickly get to within 38-37 when Stolly connected on four free throws to open the final period of play.
The two squads battled back and forth until LCC tied the game at 44 with only 55 seconds left to play. But the Blue Jays responded by scoring the final four points of the game on a bucket by Madilynn Schulte with 44 seconds to play. The T-birds committed a turnover on their next possession and Hayleigh Bacome calmly sank two free throws with 8.2 seconds to give St. John’s the win.
“We held the lead and they never got it,” Grothouse said. “Stolly is a handful, she is the real deal, just a nice ball player. We made enough free throws down the stretch to secure the win.”
Schulte paced the Blue Jays in scoring with 13 points but got help from Jessica Geise with 9 points while Bacome added 8 to the Blue Jays total and Zuber finished with 7 points.
LCC was led by Stolly and her 31 points but their next scorer was Samantha Koenig who totaled 5 points in the contest.
“We started out really flat, we have to be focused from the get go.” LCC coach Katie Krieg said. “We had a chance to win and had a really tough turnover. Our defense was good and we rebounded the ball well.
“We worked our way back into the game but then something bad would happen.”
Both teams shot 32 percent from the field with the T-Birds connecting on 12-of-37 while the Blue Jays hit 17-of-53 from the floor. LCC connected on 17-of-23 free throws while Delphos was hitting 10-of-11 from the free throw line.
LCC committed 20 turnovers compared to only 11 for Delphos but the T-Birds won the battle of the boards by a 31-24 margin over the Blue Jays.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0468.