It’s a game that could end up going a long way in deciding the race for the Buckeye Border Conference girls basketball title. And on Tuesday night at Pettisville the Blackbirds came up short, falling to Stryker 31-30 in a back and forth contest.
“Great game,” said Pettisville coach Jason Waldvogel. “(We) just had a couple mental breakdowns at the end of the game when it counted.”
The first half was tight the whole way as Pettisville led 7-5 after the first quarter.
The second stanza saw five lead changes.
Stryker opened up scoring in the quarter with a three-pointer from McKenna Louys to grab the lead. They continued to trade deuces until Haley Doehrmann converted an up and under move that kept Stryker up 12-11 at the half.
The Panthers got a basket from Courtney Stewart, plus consecutive hoops from Emma Grime to push their lead to 18-11 three minutes into the third quarter. But, from there the Blackbirds responded.
Four straight points from Morgan Leppelmeier, then a triple from Sami Tilley knotted the score at the 3:23 mark. They ended the third with made jump shots by Elizabeth Beck and Brandi Schnitkey, then Beck started the fourth with a steal and score to give them a 24-18.
Louys quieted the Pettisville home crowd with a three to slice the deficit in half, but Beck responded with two free throws which made it 26-21 with 6:09 remaining. However, Stryker’s Brittney Haines buried a three, Grime split a pair of free throws, and Doehrmann got a bucket off a steal to give the Panthers back the lead at 27-26.
For Pettisville, they were held to just one field goal in the final five minutes.
“I just think it was two teams battling, playing hard against each other,” said Waldvogel of his team’s offensive struggles down the stretch. “Just trying to figure things out. It was more of a bump and grind type of game. Wasn’t any kind of finesse (involved).”
Leppelmeier gave the Blackbirds back the lead, 28-27, thanks to a pair of free throws with 3:24 left. Grime got open for a layup to put the Panthers on top, then with under a minute left, Pettisville’s Kendal Pursel hit a corner jumper to give them a 30-29 advantage.
But, after using one of their fouls to give on the initial Stryker possession following Pursel’s bucket, Doehrmann got the go-ahead basket for the Panthers with 13 ticks left.
“It was an anticipation on the defensive positioning and we didn’t play the person. We just need to play the person,” said Waldvogel on that defensive sequence.
The ball found its way to Tilley in the final seconds but her shot fell short as the buzzer sounded.
The Blackbirds were led by Leppelmeier who finished with nine points. Pursel and Beck each added six points.
Grime led the Stryker offense with 10.
Pettisville (3-3, 3-2 BBC) travels to Hilltop Friday before hosting Edgerton on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010