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Boys basketball: St. John's knocks off LCC in rivalry game

Jan. 14—LIMA — Delphos St. John's coach Aaron Elwer didn't have to do a selling job on the Blue Jays boys basketball team to get them fired up to play a rivalry game against Lima Central Catholic on Sunday.

The Blue Jays knew the score. Or, at least, they knew the outcome the last three years in this game, all of which ended in LCC victories.

That streak ended when St. John's beat the Thunderbirds 58-53 at LCC's Msgr. E.C. Herr Gymnasium on Sunday, powered by some scorching 3-point shooting in the first half and an uncharacteristic use of a match-up zone defense throughout the game.

Cameron Elwer led St. John's (9-2) with 21 points. Andrew Elwer's 15 points included four 3-pointers. Aaron Moenter had 14 points and a pair of 3-pointers, and Austin Moenter scored eight points with two 3-pointers.

LCC (11-1), which was ranked No. 3 in the state in Division IV poll last week, got 15 points from Willie Foster, 13 points from Jayden Priddy and 12 points from Carson Parker.

"In our meeting yesterday, we talked about it's a Sunday afternoon game, it's the only game in town, there's great tradition there. They have beaten us three times in a row. They'reranked (No.) 3 in the state, and they're undefeated. There was a lot of motivation to play well today. Our guys embraced it; we played well," St. John's coach Aaron Elwer said.

Cameron Elwer, a sophomore, said, "I was a ball boy when Martyce Kimbrough and Dantez Walton used to play (for LCC), and it's always been in my brain that I wanted to beat LCC every time we could, and we did it this time."

St. John's sprinted out to a 30-15 halftime lead after hitting 6 of 13 on 3-pointers. Meanwhile, LCC was 1 of 9 from distance in the first two quarters.

"They came out in a zone that slowed us down. It made us think a little bit," LCC coach Sean Powell said. "I told my coaches before the game Delphos is a man-to-man team, and they're not going to zone us unless we show we're weak, and that's what they did in the first half."

Aaron Elwer said the last time St. John's used a zone this extensively in a game was a district championship game against St. Henry several years ago.

"We felt that gave us the best chance to win today. We threw it out there and were willing to stick with it, which was easier because we got off to such a good start," he said.

In the second half, LCC used more full-court pressure on defense and changed its offensive approach. And those two things paid dividends.

The Thunderbirds cut the Blue Jays' 15-point halftime lead to 11 points, 45-34, by the end of the third quarter and got to within three points twice in the final 17 seconds of the game.

"The one thing we emphasized at halftime was getting to the rim. I think in the second half we did a little bit better job of getting to the rim," Powell said. "We just needed another minute, just one more minute."

Priddy hit two free throws with 17 seconds to play which reduced St. John's lead to 54-51. For a second, or maybe a fraction of one, it looked like the Thunderbirds might get an opportunity to possibly tie the game with 15 seconds left on the clock when Austin Moenter's free throw attempt hit the rim and the ball bounced left along the baseline.

But Cameron Elwer, who had lined up on the far side of the lane, raced across the lane, grabbed the ball and was fouled.

He hit two free throws to make it 56-51. Then after Demarr Foster's bucket made it a 56-53 game, Elwer hit two more free throws to clinch the win.

St. John's shot 50 percent on 3-pointers (9 of 18) and 61 percent overall on field goals. LCC shot 15 percent (2 of 13) on threes and 47 percent overall.

"We have guys who are capable. We've done that before. All of our guys have that opportunity. If our guys remain confident and hit open shots, we're a tough team to handle," Aaron Elwer said.

Delphos St. John's 58, LCC 53

St. John's 16 14 15 13 — 58

LCC 9 6 19 19 — 53

ST. JOHN'S

Cameron Elwer 21, Aaron Moenter 14, Austin Moenter 8, Andrew Elwer 15. Totals: 20-9-58.

LIMA CENTRAL CATHOLIC

Carson Parker 12, Demarr Foster 4, Billy Bourk 4, Willie Foster 15, Jordan Priddy 13, Parker Judy 5. Totals: 22-7-53.

3-pointers: DSJ — A. Elwer 4, Aaron Moenter 2, Austin Moenter 2, C. Elwer 1. LCC — Judy 1, Priddy 1.

Records: LCC 11-1; Delphos St. John's 9-2.