FINDLAY — Solid defense and accurate 3-point shooting was the recipe for success Friday night as Findlay spoiled St. John’s Jesuit’s hopes of a perfect run through the Three Rivers Athletic Conference boys basketball schedule.
The Trojans (15-4, 9-3 TRAC), who were 8 for 14 (57 percent) on 3-pointers, got 19 points from guard Michael Clark and 17 points and eight rebounds from forward Adam Twining in taking a 63-57 victory against the Titans (15-5, 11-1).
“That’s a huge win,” Clark said. “Our loss [last week] at St. Francis didn’t help us at all as far as the conference. But a win like this at this time a year against such a good team, we hope it’ll give us a little momentum going into the tournament. We shot the ball really well.
“When you make shots that covers up a lot of other things. Any time you can beat St. John’s, it’s great.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos from the game
The St. John’s loss moved Central Catholic (14-2) back into the TRAC title race. The Irish are 9-1 in the conference after beating St. Francis on Friday night.
Findlay connected on six of its eight 3-point attempts in the second half after taking a 24-23 lead to halftime.
After the break, the Trojans opened the third quarter with an 8-2 surge, taking a 32-25 lead on Clark’s 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 3 seconds left in the period.
The rest of the game amounted to a chase for the Titans, who got close but could never catch Findlay, which had an answer for each St. John’s charge.
“Findlay played well, and they were much more physical than us,” Titans coach Ed Heintschel said. “We had opportunities early in the second half, but then they hit shots.
“We didn’t rotate well [on defense] all night, and they hit 3s. They’re an experienced team and they were at home and you kind of expect that. We had it down to three and two and one, but we just never got over the hump.”
The Titans pulled within 39-37 at the end of the third quarter when J.P. Celis nailed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
Findlay opened the fourth quarter with two free throws from Grant Niswander (eight points), and Celis hit 1 of 2 at the line to make it 41-38, but that was as close as the Titans got.
Clark stepped back to hit a 3-pointer from the right wing, Twining added a pair of free throws, and — after Gabe Kynard (10 points) hit a 12-footer for St. John’s — Clark netted his fourth and final 3-pointer of the game for a 49-40 Trojans lead with 5:18 to play.
“When we played up there [in Toledo against St. John’s] it was the first quarter that kept us from getting the win,” Twining said. “We beat them in the other three quarters.
“We knew that we had to come out and play hard from the get-go, and that’s what we did. We couldn’t let them get too much momentum going forward, whether it was a big stop on defense or running a play through fundamentally and getting an easy bucket.”
The Titans, who were led by 16 points from Anthony Glover, Jr., and 12 more from Parker Ernsthausen, got no closer than four from there.
The only St. John’s lead came at 2-0 when Kynard scored from the right baseline 13 seconds into the game.
Findlay followed with an 11-0 run, which began on Clark’s first 3-pointer and ended on Niswander’s layup off a steal with 3:09 left in the first quarter.
The Titans, trailing 15-10 after one quarter, fell behind by eight before closing the half with an 11-4 run to get within 24-23 at the break.
“I knew we’d come out and play hard and compete,” Findlay coach Jim Rucki said. “I was just hoping we’d shoot the ball a little better than we did last time [59-48 loss at St. John’s on Jan. 4].
“We couldn’t put the ball in the ocean in the first half [ of the first game], and we dug ourselves a huge hole.”
Findlay was 21 of 40 (53 percent) from the field and 13 of 20 from the line.
St. John’s was 17 of 45 (38 percent) from the field, but just 7 of 23 on 3-pointers.
The Titans were 17 of 19 (89 percent) at the line and outrebounded the Trojans 30-23.