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Boys Basketball: St. John's captures outright MAC title

Feb. 24—DELPHOS — Delphos St. John's could have used last year's late-season loss to Marion Local as motivation for Friday night's MAC finale, but they didn't need to.

The Blue Jays knew exactly what was at stake with the back-to-back outright league champion Flyers in town, and they delivered with a 57-47 win, clinching their first outright MAC title since 2005.

"The opportunity to win it (the conference) outright on senior night trumped the thought of last year's loss," St. John's coach Aaron Elwer said. "It was brought up, and I thought if it gave our guys a little more energy then why not? But our guys knew what was in play, and they've been really locked in all year."

Last February, Delphos St. John's visited Marion Local with a chance at a share of the conference title but ultimately suffered a 58-48 loss.

On Friday night, the Blue Jays (20-2) used a total team effort to earn the title of "outright champs," an honor the Flyers (9-13) held each of the past two seasons.

"At the end of the day, this game is played with five guys, and the more players you have that can make plays, the tougher we are to defend," Elwer said. "I think their (Marion Local's) plan was to take Cameron out of the game as much as they could, and they did a good job with that, but other guys stepped up and made plays."

Tyce McClain hit two first-half triples, Aaron Moenter shot 4 of 6 from the field, finishing the night with 11 points, and Andrew Elwer hit both of his three-point attempts in the second half.

The Blue Jays were firing on all cylinders and from every corner of the floor. Seven players finished the game with at least five points, led by Cameron Elwer with a hard-earned 18.

Marion Local went with a 2-3 zone in its effort to slow down Elwer, and through three quarters, the sophomore guard was limited to eight points.

The Flyers' zone caused issues for Elwer but it opened up his teammates for some clean looks, which they made count, sinking nine triples on the evening.

"Our mentality was similar to other teams that let Cam get his points but limited their other guys," Marion Local coach Kurt Goettemoeller said. "We wanted to do both as much as we could. We wanted to make it as tough as we could on him but also try to cover up shooters, but you just lose guys in zones and those guys made us pay."

Tyce McClain's back-to-back threes in the first quarter gave St. John's a 13-11 lead, and they never trailed again.

The Blue Jays scored the final five points of the first and used a 9-6 advantage in the second quarter to take a 27-19 lead at the break.

"They made a run in the second quarter that we can't allow," Goettemoeller said. "We had to get post touches in that stretch and we weren't getting them. We had another bad second quarter just like we did at Spencerville the other night. If you want to beat a team like this, then you have to play four quarters."

Marion Local got 14 points from Austin Niekamp and 11 from Jack Knapke. Knapke (6'9") and Niekamp (6'8") helped the Flyers out-rebound St. John's 19-14.

Marion Local made it a one-possession game with 1:21 left in the fourth, but St. John's was its normal self from the free-throw line, hitting all eight of its attempts on the night.

The Blue Jays shot 20 of 41 from the floor (48%), and Marion Local converted 16 of its 30 field goals (53%).

St. John's won the turnover battle 7-4.

This is the 10th time St. John's has won the MAC championship and the third time outright in the conference's history.

"The MAC is so well documented in every sport, so to win it outright is awesome, but to do it undefeated is a heck of a season," Elwer said. "We got to witness that, and it seems a little bit surreal, but I knew at the start of the year that if we could stay healthy, we had a chance to be a great team. To our guys' credit, they've kept getting better, they trust the process and they've earned the right to be outright champions."

Delphos St. John's 57, Marion Local 47

Score by quarters:

Marion Local 13 6 13 15 — 47

Delphos St. John's 18 9 15 15 — 57

MARION LOCAL

Austin Niekamp 14, Jack Knapke 11, Grant Kremer 9, Kyle Otte 6, Mitch Ranly 4, Daniel Everman 3, Totals: 17-7-47

DELPHOS ST. JOHN'S

Cameron Elwer 18, Aaron Moenter 11, Austin Moenter 7, Tyce McClain 6, Andrew Elwer 6, Drew Boggs 5, Collin Feathers 2, Joel Schrader 2, Totals: 20-8-57.

Three-point goals: ML — Otte 2, Kremer 2, Niekamp 2; DSJ — Aa. Moenter 3, A. Elwer 2, McClain 2, Boggs 1, Au. Moenter 1

Records: Marion Local 9-13, 4-5 MAC; Delphos St. John's 20-2, 9-0 MAC

Reach Chris Howell at 567-242-0468 or on Twitter @Lima_Howell