The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022

VW blows big lead but still downs ‘Jays

DAVE MOSIER/independent sports

With a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Van Wert Cougars seemed to have a lock on Saturday’s non-league contest against Delphos St. John’s. But Van Wert didn’t count on the competitiveness of the Blue Jays. Delphos staged a furious comeback in the final stanza, fueled by a defensive effort that caused the Cougars to lose their composure down the stretch. Although outscored 23-9, Van Wert managed to avoid the upset and hold on for a 56-50 win.

Van Wert's Nik Wolford (33) puts up a lay-up during Saturday's game against Delphos St. John's. The Cougars escaped with a 56-50 after leading by 20 points heading into the fourth quarter. (Jan Dunlap/Van Wert independent)

The Cougars (5-2) had three players in double figures, led by AJ Smith’s 17 points, including three treys. Joey Hurless added 12 points, while Matt Bidlack scored 10 points for Van Wert. Delphos (4-2) was led by Curtis Geise’s 15 points, while Ryan Koester added 13 points for the Blue Jays.

The Cougars got out to a fast start, doubling the score, 14-7, on St. John’s in the first quarter. Van Wert was up by 18 at the half, 33-15, and ended the third quarter with a 47-27 lead.

That’s when the momentum started to turn, though, as Delphos ratcheted up the defense pressure and the Cougars began to wilt. After hitting 4 of 5 free throws in the first half, Van Wert was only 5 of 14 in the last quarter. Fortunately, for the Cougars, they had enough shots go in to escape with the victory.

Van Wert shot very well from the field, going 5 of 12 from three-point range (41.7 percent) and hitting 16 of 26 two-point attempts (61.5 percent). Free-throw shooting was another matter, as the Cougars made only 9 of 19 attempts (47.4 percent). St. John’s hit 4 of 18 three-point attempts (22.2 percent), was 15 of 32 from two-point range (46.9 percent) and made 8 of 11 shots from the charity stripe (72.7 percent).

Van Wert edged the Blue Jays in rebounding, 21-20, but had two more turnovers, 12-10, than St. John’s.

The Cougar junior varsity team continued its winning ways, downing Delphos 39-28 in the opening game. Michael Smelser led Van Wert with 12 points, while sophomore Alex Odenweller was Delphos — and the game’s — top scorer with 15 points. The Cougar JVs are now 7-0 on the year.

Van Wert will next play Kenton this coming Friday and then take on Fort Wayne Carroll High School next Tuesday. Both games are at home.

POSTED: 12/31/12 at 8:09 am. FILED UNDER: Sports