St. John's Gabe Kynard goes to the basket against Findlay's Grant Niswander, left, and Adam Twining. Twining led Findlay with 21.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
St. John’s Jesuit started fast, but then had to hold off a furious rally from visiting Findlay on Friday night to take a 59-48 Three Rivers Athletic Conference boys basketball victory.
Titans senior guard Anthony Glover, Jr., led all scorers with 22 points and came up with a key steal to stave off the Trojans’ comeback bid in the final 75 seconds.
With St. John’s (8-2, 5-0 TRAC) having seen a 31-15 halftime lead trimmed to 50-46, Glover had the ball stolen from him, giving Findlay a chance to cut the lead to two or even one point.
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But the 6-foot-1 guard quickly returned the favor, stealing the ball back and drawing a foul.
Glover sank both free throws with 1:13 to play, and St. John’s outscored the Trojans (7-2, 4-1) 7-2 in the final minute to win the battle between these two TRAC favorites.
“That was my fault,” Glover said of his late turnover. “The ball just slipped out of my hands, and I tried to make a play and get it back. I did, and then hit a couple free throws.
“Basketball is a game of runs, and we knew they were going to try and make a run. We just tried to keep our composure and find a way to get a ‘W.’
"Any win in the TRAC is a big win.”
Senior forward Parker Ernsthausen added 11 points and 11 rebounds for St. John’s, and guard Austin Moore contributed 10 points off the bench to help the Titans win their eight straight game and stay unbeaten in conference play.
Findlay was picked to win the conference in the preseason coaches poll, and the Titans were tabbed for second. The two teams will play again on Feb. 7 in Findlay.
Statistically, St. John’s won the game at the foul line, where it hit 18 of 29 and the Trojans sank just three 3 of 10. The Titans also carried a 33-23 edge on the boards, with the 6-9 Ernsthausen leading the way.
Hitting six of their first nine shots from the field, the Titans bolted to a 17-6 lead after one quarter. St. John’s then pushed its lead to 16 points at halftime.
“I’ve got to give credit to [assistant coach] Shane Komives,” Titans coach Ed Heintschel said. “He broke down all of their stuff, and we knew what they were going to run.
“He did a great job preparing the guys. That was evident in the first half. In the second half two things happened — we got a little sloppy on defense, and with the ball.”
But Findlay battled back, using a noticeable increase in court energy to outscore St. John’s 24-13 in the third quarter to pull within 44-38 entering the fourth.
The Titans, who hit just one of their eight fourth-quarter shots from the field, got to the line enough to hold off Findlay’s charge. The Titans missed five of their first seven free throws in the final period, but regrouped to hit 11 of their last 14 foul shots.
That effort enabled St. John’s to offset the solid offensive effort of 6-3 Findlay senior Adam Twining, who topped the Trojans with 21 points before fouling out in the closing seconds.
Twining scored 13 of his points after halftime.
“[Findlay] really dictated the beginning of the second half with their physicality and tough hard-nosed defense,” Heintschel said. “I was happy in the second half with the way we responded. Some teams would have just laid down and had a difficult time finishing the game. But we finished it well. We held in there tough.”
The Trojans also got nine points and 10 rebounds from Austin Gutting and 10 points from Grant Niswander.
“You have to give them credit,” Findlay coach Jim Rucki said. “They made shots in the first half. They knocked down some 3s, and we couldn’t put the ball in the basket.
“We had some bad misses, and we dug a bit of a hole. You have to do everything else perfect [afterward] when you do that, and we didn’t do that.
We did a lot better job in the second half, and we showed some signs of being a pretty good team at times. We just have to get better at a few things, and eliminate a few mistakes.”
St. John’s was 18 of 38 from the field and committed 11 turnovers. Findlay was 21 of 48 from the field, and had nine giveaways.