District Boys Basketball: Miller City season remains alive

ELIDA — “Survive and advance” is a popular motto used by many coaches this time of year, when every team’s season is one loss away from being over.
Miller City coach Bryan Kuhlman surely embraced those words Tuesday night. The Wildcats struggled through a 30.2 percent (13 of 43) shooting performance from the field, but used stellar defense and made a fourth-quarter charge to top Delphos St. John’s 39-36 in a Division IV boys district semifinal contest at Elida Fieldhouse.
“We’re going to the district finals,” Kuhlman said.
“It’s been a long time for us. The boys are real happy with the effort that they gave. Everybody came in, knew what their role was. We were able to check out their bigs and lucky for us they weren’t hitting on the outside early on and we were able to contain.
“That’s what it is, survive and move on.”
Miller City (16-8) will face Convoy Crestview (24-0) for the district title Friday at 7 p.m. The Knights rolled past Columbus Grove 65-34 in Tuesday’s opening contest at Elida.
Delphos St. John’s and Miller City both struggled from the opening tip. The Blue Jays finished the first quarter 1 of 14 from the field; the Wildcats were just 2 of 9 and had five turnovers, but led 6-3 after the opening period.
The scoring picked up a bit in the second quarter, when Miller City was able to extend the lead to 15-10 at halftime. But neither team managed to make it to double figures in the period.
St. John’s shot 14.8 percent (4 of 27) from the field in the first half, before ultimately finishing 28.6 percent overall (14 of 49) and 20 percent (4 of 20) from 3-point range.
“Obviously, you’re not going to beat many teams when you shoot that type of percentage,” St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer said. “Luckily for us we defended and, for the most part, rebounded the ball. At some point the ball’s got to go in the rim but it just didn’t do that for us tonight.
“I don’t think our shot selection was bad. Unfortunately, if you’re going to be inconsistent in this game it’s going to get you at some point against a good team and it got us tonight.”
Despite the poor shooting, the Blue Jays (13-9) outscored the Wildcats 13-8 in the third quarter to tie the game at 23-all entering the final period.
Evan Hays’ basket with just more than six minutes to play gave St. John’s a 28-23 lead, but Jackson Lammers scored seven of Miller City’s next nine points to put the Wildcats back in control.
Lammers’ 3-pointer with 2:30 left provided Miller City a 32-29 advantage, which they would never relinquish.
Adam Niese scored Miller City’s final five points of the game, including 3 of 4 free throws that put the Wildcats up 39-33 and put the game out of reach for the Blue Jays.
“The fourth quarter was huge for us,” Kuhlman said.
“We talk all the time about trying to win each and every quarter and tonight we were able to win that fourth quarter and that’s what got us the game. We made some foul shots at the end of the game. We were able to get some penetration that we hadn’t gotten earlier in the game and that was the difference for us.”
Adam Drummelsmith finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds, while Niese netted 10 points to go with three blocks and two steals. Andy Grothouse led St. John’s with 10 points and Tyler Conley grabbed 13 boards.
In the first game, Crestview imposed its will on Northwest Conference rival Columbus Grove from the very beginning and suffocated the Bulldogs with pressure defense.
Cam Etzler scored the first five points as the Knights streaked out to a 16-2 lead midway through the opening quarter. They extended that margin to 22-6 by taking advantage of seven Columbus Grove turnovers.
“We came out and put a little more pressure on the ball early,” said Crestview coach Jeremy Best.
“We thought we couldn’t let them get in the half court and pound it in the post and get in a rhythm. I thought that was a huge key for us tonight, to set the tone and come out swinging, so to speak, with our defensive pressure. We gave up a few things, but I thought it really jump-started our kids tonight.”
Pressure defense coupled with hot shooting provided the Knights, who finished the regular season as the No. 1 ranked team in the state in Division IV, with more than enough of a cushion to work with.
Crestview shot 52.1 percent (25 of 48) from the field, including 46.7 percent (7 of 15) from beyond the arc.
“Some of that was created because we were playing at a pretty good pace,” Best said. “They were scrambling back and trying to find us. Obviously, everything’s good when you make them. When you make shots the game goes a little easier for you.”
Columbus Grove (14-10) was unable to sustain any success on either end of the floor and was outscored 29-14 in the second half.
Damian Helm dropped in 14 points, Connor Lautzenheiser and Tyler Bolenbaugh each added 12 and Isaiah Simerman tallied 11 for Crestview. Will Vorhees and Jace Darbyshire each finished with 12 points to pace the Bulldogs.
“(You) Can’t get down to the number one team in the state like that,” Columbus Grove coach Ryan Stechschulte said. “They’re too good. You don’t have a game plan to be down 20 to them because when they get up 20 it’s over.
“We weren’t ready for that mentally. Believe it or not, we worked on that exact same type of pressure for three days. (We) Just mentally couldn’t bring it to game night tonight for some reason.”

Vorhees 5-14 1-2 12, Darbyshire 5-11 0-2 12, Neu 1-1 1-1 3, Bogart 1-2 0-0 3, Warnecke 0-3 2-2 2, Jones 1-1 0-0 2, Diller 0-0 0-0 0, Brubaker 0-1 0-0 0, Clement 0-2 0-0 0, Grothaus 0-0 0-0 0, Schroeder 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 13-38 4-7–34.
Convoy Crestview (24-0)
Helm 5-7 2-3 14, Co. Lautzenheiser 5-11 0-1 12, Bolenbaugh 5-7 2-3 12, Simerman 4-7 0-0 11, Etzler 3-8 1-1 7, Jones 1-3 2-2 4, Zaleski 1-3 1-2 3, Rolsten 1-1 0-1 2, Rickard 0-1 0-0 0, Ca. Lautzenheiser 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25-48 8-13–65.
Columbus Grove 6 14 9 5 — 34
Convoy Crestview 22 14 16 13 — 65
3-Point GOALS: Columbus Grove 4-13 (Vorhees 1-3, Darbyshire 2-5, Bogart 1-1, Warnecke 0-2, Diller 0-1, Brubaker 0-1)l Convoy Crestview 7-15 (Helm 2-2, Co. Lautzenheiser 2-6, Simerman 3-6, Etzler 0-1).
rebounds: Convoy Crestview 29 (Bolenbaugh 8); Columbus Grove 22 (Brubaker 5).
ASSISTS: Convoy Crestview 14 (Etzler 7); Columbus Grove 5 (Brubaker 3).
STEALS: Convoy Crestview 9 (Etzler 5); Columbus Grove 7 (Bogart 2).
BLOCKS: Convoy Crestview 1 (Bolenbaugh); Columbus Grove none
TURNOVERS: Columbus Grove 18, Convoy Crestview 10.
TOTAL FOULS: Convoy Crestview 14, Columbus Grove 13.
Second GAME
delphos st. john’s (13-9)
Grothouse 3-10 3-6 10, Koester 3-11 0-0 6, Clark 2-13 0-0 6, Hayes 3-3 0-0 6, Conley 2-6 1-2 5, Hellman 1-2 0-0 3, Odenweller 0-4 0-0 0. TOTALS: 14-49 4-8–36.
miller city (16-8)
Drummelsmith 4-11 5-5 14, Niese 3-10 3-4 10, Heuerman 3-10 1-3 8, J. Lammers 3-7 0-1 7, M. Lammers 0-2 0-0 0, Gerten 0-2 0-0 0, Kuhlman 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 13-43 9-13–39.
Delphos St. John’s 3 7 13 13 — 36
Miller City 6 9 8 16 — 39
3-Point GOALS: Delphos St. John’s 4-20 (Grothouse 1-3, Koester 0-4, Clark 2-8, Hellman 1-2, Odenweller 0-3); Miller City 4-16 (Drummelsmith 1-2, Niese 1-3, Heuerman 1-5, J. Lammers 1-4, Gerten 0-2).
REBOUNDS: Delphos St. John’s 32 (Conley 13, Koester 5); Miller City 35 (Drummelsmith 15, Niese 8, Heuerman 6).
ASSISTS: Delphos St. John’s 8 (Hayes 3); Miller City 2.
STEALS: Delphos St. John’s 6 (Hayes 3); Miller City 6 (Niese 2).
BLOCKS: Delphos St. John’s 4 (Conley 3); Miller City 4 (Niese 3).
TURNOVERS: Delphos St. John’s 10, Miller City 13.
TOTAL FOULS: Delphos St. John’s 15, Miller City 13.
FOULED OUT: Grothouse (DSJ).
Williams, 419-427-8409
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