By Gary R. Rasberry
DELPHOS -- A couple of hot streaks by Delphos St. John's spoiled what looked to be a solid night for St. Marys.
The biggest streak came midway through the third quarter as part of an 8-0 run that moved the Blue Jays into the lead for good.
The final Blue Jay streak came in the final moments as clutch free throws secured St. John's a 52-45 win in the homer opener at Arnzen Gym in Delphos.
The win snaps the Blue Jays' two-game losing streak -- both coming in overtime -- and raising their record to 3-2. The Roughriders drop to 2-3.
While St. Marys shot 48.6 percent from the floor compared to the Blue Jays' 47.2 percent, the big difference was in the distance of the shots that were made. The Roughriders made just two-of-eight three-point attempts while the Blue Jays connected on eight of their 17 tries. "They're a very skilled team," said St. Marys coach Tim Niekamp of St. John's. "They shoot off the dribble very well. When you're trying to get back in it and they're (hitting) free throws, it makes it very difficult."
St. John's led by a slim 20-19 margin at the break but St. Marys came out strong in the second half. Kerri Imwalle went inside for two to give St. Marys its first lead of the game at 21-20 and Toya Anderson followed with a three-pointer with 4:18 left in the quarter to make it 24-20 for the Roughriders.
The Jays responded as Jeanne Bockey hit a free throw after getting fouled on a running jumper. Elyse Grothouse put the Jays back up with a three-pointer at 25-24. A minute later, Brittany Pohlman sank another trey to make it 28-24 and forced Nie-kamp to call a timeout.
"They started raining down some threes," said Niekamp. "We switched defenses three times and just couldn't locate the shooters all the time."
"It was a game of streaks and runs," said St. John's coach Dan Grothouse. "Luckily, we had the last one."
St. Marys trailed by as many as 12 in the second half before finding its touch again in the fourth quarter. Stephanie Platt's free throws with 3:38 left in the game cut the Blue Jay lead to five points at 41-36.
In the final 31/2 minutes, the fouls piled up enough to send the Jays to the stripe. St. John's made seven of its final eight in the game and was 10-of-11 in the game from the foul line.
Coach Grothouse was happy to see the consistency after having some poor foul shooting in the closing minutes of the last two games, overtime losses to Van Wert and New Knoxville.
"We had been shooting 70 percent from the line, which is pretty good, but we probably shot 40 percent in the two games we lost. Today for us to shoot as well as we did was a big shot in the arm," said Grothouse.
St. Marys was led by Kerri Imwalle's 16 points and six rebounds while Emily Shellabarger added 10 points and five rebounds.
The Blue Jays put three in double figures. Bockey led the way with 13 while Pohlman added 11 and Laura Garman finished with 10.
The celebration was tempered a bit as Elyse Grothouse, niece of coach Grothouse, went to the floor in pain in the final eight seconds. The game was stopped with 8.7 seconds left as trainers attended to Grothouse, who was in considerable pain. Grothouse was carried off the court with what looked like an ankle injury.
St. Marys returns to Western Buckeye League play on Thursday at home against Defiance while St. John's stays at Arnzen Gym to face St. Henry in a key Midwest Athletic Conference matchup.