Dryfuse finds makes key free throws, Blue Jackets hold off Warriors

NEW RIEGEL — New Riegel senior Ben Dryfuse just could not make a free throw.

Then, in an instant, Dryfuse looked like a 90 percent shooter.

Dryfuse missed his first four free throws before making three straight, helping lift the Blue Jackets to a 59-51 non-league opening-night win Friday over Mohawk.

“We came out and were trying to get guys open,” Dryfuse said. “My guys were able to get me shots and I was able to make them. It was a good confidence boost tonight.”

Dryfuse missed two free throws in the first quarter, but was put to the test in the final minute of the game. He twice missed the front-end of a one-and-one, but New Riegel (1-0) twice got the offense rebound.

“Down the stretch, we didn’t box out and that’s an effort thing,” Mohawk coach Paul Dunn said. “We preach and we work on boxing out everyday, but we didn’t box out. That’s just a lack of effort and a lack of mental toughness down the stretch to make sure we know what we’re doing.”

Leading 53-51 with 44.7 seconds left, Dryfuse then drilled two straight free throws, and grabbed his 10th and final rebound after a free throw miss by teammate Dylan Smith.

Dryfuse made his next free throw as well, before missing one with 27.5 seconds left. The Blue Jackets connected on just 7 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter.

“I’m glad to get the victory and I was proud of the guys’ effort,” New Riegel coach David Losey said. “They played hard and flew around on the defensive end. At the end, we obviously didn’t make our free throws, but we made enough plays.”

New Riegel added to a two-point lead after three quarters when Bryce Hohman drilled a 3-pointer and split two free throws. Chris Klopp got in the scoring column when he grabbed an offensive rebound, scored and was fouled. He made the free throw to cut the Blue Jackets’ lead to 41-40.

Later, a 3-pointer by Mohawk’s Ryan Lacey knotted the game at 45-all, but that is when Dryfuse took over. He scored eight straight points — including two 3-pointers — in a span of 1:21 to give New Riegel breathing room.

“Ben really took it over,” Losey said. “A couple of those shots I thought we needed to work the ball, but you know what? Big time players make big time plays and hopefully he’s going to be a big time player for us.”

The Blue Jackets maintained the 53-45 lead as Losey called timeout with 1:39 left. The Warriors then forced three consecutive turnovers, igniting six straight points in just 16 seconds, cutting the New Riegel lead to 53-51.

“(The turnovers) came in bunches and we seemed to let it affect us,” Losey said. “One became two, two became three, and it snowballed on us. We are a young team, so hopefully with a bit of maturity and a bit of experience, we can overcome those things.”

A bucket by Dryfuse and a 3 from Hohman put New Riegel ahead, 13-8, after one quarter. Lacey drilled a 3-pointer and Keith Jenkins scored to give Mohawk the lead in the second quarter. Later, Jenkins scored seven straight points to push the Warriors ahead, 22-15. Hohman and Cole Noftz added 3-pointers to get the Blue Jackets within 26-23 at halftime.

“The last minute is what killed us, but what really killed us was our lack of preparation for the week,” Dunn said. “I, as a coach, apparently did not have these guys ready to go as a team. We were not ready to play as a team when we stepped on the floor tonight.”

Lacey topped Mohawk with 16 points while Jenkins added 15 points and six rebounds.

Dryfuse scored a game-high 19 points to finish off a double-double for the Blue Jackets. Noftz hit four 3-pointers for 12 points while Hohman had 11 points.

“We’re just not gelling. We haven’t gelled yet,” Dunn said. “It’s early in the year, but as a coaching staff — as the head coach — I’ve got to have us more gelled together before the first game. We weren’t ready to go in terms of that tonight and it showed on the court in crunch time.”

New Riegel committed 20 turnovers while Mohawk made just 6 of 26 (23.1 percent) 3-pointers.