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Saturday, January 11th, 2014

St. John's rallies past Minster in second half

By Bruce Monnin

Minster's Jacob Stechschulte tries to shoot over a St. John's defender during Fr. . .

MINSTER - In a low scoring, defensive struggle that featured seven lead changes and three ties in the fourth quarter, the outcome of the game came down to the free-throw line. 
Delphos St. John's excelled at the charity stripe and Minster struggled as the Blue Jays escaped Wildcat Gymnasium with a 45-42 victory.
St. John's (6-1, 2-0 MAC) ended the game 8-11 from the charity stripe, while Minster (3-8, 0-3 MAC) made only three of its 10 attempts.
   "We haven't shot it well from the free-throw line at this point but eight for 11 is a step in the right direction," said St. John's coach Aaron Elwer.
"In a game that is low possession and low scoring, we have to do a better job with the clock stopped," said Minster coach Mike Lee. "It is something that we have struggled with, for whatever reason, and now it's turned more mental than anything else. In a three-point game, you can't go 3-for-10."
The game was tied 34-34 with 5:45 remaining in the final period. An 8-3 run over the next four minutes gave the Blue Jays a five-point lead at 42-37 before a Brandon Hoying three-pointer cut the Wildcats' deficit to just two points. 
But after both teams traded scores with a minute to go, Minster was unable to cash in on its last two attempts to tie the game, allowing St. John's to survive with a three-point win.
   The first quarter demonstrated it was going to be a defensive struggle. After Minster jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, only six more points were scored in the period. Between the two stifling defenses and several good looks at the basket falling off the mark the Wildcats entered the second quarter with a 9-4 lead.
It only took the Blue Jays 20 seconds into the next period to exceed their point total from the first quarter, evening the score at 9-9. 
Both teams traded buckets the rest of the half, which ended in a flurry when Minster's Jacob Stechschulte hit a basket with six seconds remaining, only to be matched by Eric Clark's shot as the buzzer that trimmed the Wildcats' lead to 19-17 at halftime.
St. John's started the second half by forcing the ball inside with good effect, scoring the first eight points for their largest lead of the game at 25-19.
   "We thought we had an advantage to attack their close outs off the dribble.  Early in the first half we settled for the perimeter. They only had two fouls in the first half, which means we're not in attack mode," explained Elwer. "We needed to attack them and get to the free-throw line or get some easy opportunities to get us going.  And it did."
Minster responded by taking the ball inside as well, with the guards either driving to the basket or feeding the ball to Eli Wolf, who led the Wildcats in scoring with 10 points. The resulting 13-2 run gave Minster a five-point lead in the fourth quarter.
   The Blue Jays countered by scoring 15 of the next 20 points over the next six minutes to give the visitors a late five-point lead that the Wildcats were unable to overcome.
Andy Grothouse was the leading scorer for St. John's with 17 points, including a clutch three-pointer to start the final Blue Jays' run.
Minster is back in action tonight, traveling to Fort Loramie.
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