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June 1, 2020

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Pirate boys down Jefferson behind huge 1st period

BHS improved to 18-4; finished 6-2 in NWC

By Cort Reynolds
DELPHOS - Visiting Bluffton raced to a big early lead and went on to defeat Delphos Jefferson 69-57 in the Northwest Conference boys basketball regular season finale Friday night.

The Pirates led 27-13 after the first period as senior Mason Soper poured in 14 points. Bluffton held a 37-25 edge at halftime. 

Jefferson edged within 53-47 after a 22-16 third period as Wildcat Ian Wannemacher netted 10 points in the quarter.

But Bluffton canned seven of eight foul shots in the final quarter to hold off DJ, winning the period 16-10 to triumph by a dozen points.

The Pirates improved to 18-4 and finished 6-2 in the NWC with the road win, good for second place behind only league champion Columbus Grove (8-0). Meanwhile, Jefferson fell to 8-14 and 4-4 in the NWC (fourth place) with the defeat.

Soper led all scorers with 24 points. Pirate senior Jared Piercefield contributed 18 points, while junior Levi Hohenbrink tallied six of his season-high 16 markers in the fourth period.

Wannemacher topped the Wildcats with 14 points. Damon Wiltsie netted a dozen points, while Logan Hubert added 10 and Hunter Mericle nine.

Bluffton canned 24 field goals, including 17 two-point goals and seven three-pointers. The Pirates converted 14 of 21 foul shots (67 percent).

DJ sank 21 two-pointers and two triples for 23 total baskets. The Wildcats converted nine of 14 free throws (64 percent).

Jefferson committed 17 turnovers, while Bluffton made 14 errors.

Bluffton improved to 7-3 on the road this season with the win.    

Bluffton 69 (18-4, 6-2 NWC)
Deardorff 0 0-1 0, Schriner 1 0-0 2, Garmatter 1 1-4 3, Soper 8 5-6 24, Shutler 0 0-2 0, Piercefield 7 2-2 18, Essinger 3 0-0 6, Hohenbrink 4 6-6 16, Kinn 0. 
Totals: 24/14-21/69. 3-pointers: Hohenbrink 2, Soper 3, Piercefield 2.

DJ 57 (8-14, 4-4 NWC)
Bailey 1 0-0 3, Wannemacher 6 2-2 14, Wiltsie 4 3-4 12, Herron 1 3-4 5, Hubert 5 0-0 10, Mericle 4 1-3 9, Rode 2 0-1 4.
Totals: 23/9-14/57. 3-pointers: Bailey 1, Wiltsie 1.

    1    2    3    4    F
Bluf     27    10    16    16    69
DJ     13    12    22    10    57

The second-seeded Pirates will play the winner between 11th seed Paulding (6-16) and fifth seed Lima Central Catholic Friday, Feb. 28 in Elida at 8 p.m. in the sectional second round.

The Pirates whipped the Panthers 63-48 on Jan. 10, but did not play former NWC foe LCC (13-8).

The Elida/Miller City sectional final winners advance to the Lima Senior districts March 5. If the seeds hold according to form, Bluffton would face tough Wayne Trace (15-5) in the district semis. 

Ottawa-Glandorf (21-1) was seeded first in the sectional, with Wayne Trace (16-6) ranked third and Riverdale (15-7) fourth. The Pirates lost at home to top seed O-G 47-41 on Jan. 4 to suffer their first loss of the season. It was their only home defeat of the campaign.

The district finals are set for Saturday, March 7 at Lima Senior.

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