With the defending Buckeye Border Conference boys basketball champions in town, Pettisville put on a show both for the fans in attendance and for the rest of the conference as the Blackbirds hammered Hilltop 79-36 Tuesday night.
“They are a very athletic team and we played hard,” Pettisville coach Brian Leppelmeier said after the win. “We took advantage of our turnovers (we created) in the first half.”
The Blackbirds played well the entire game, but the coup de gras was a 32-2 closing run over the final 10 ½ minutes of the contest.
Hilltop was hanging around, down 47-34 after Steven Riley scored with 4 ½ minutes left in the third period. Little did anybody know, it would be the final field goal the Cadets would score the rest of the night.
Dillon King quickly scored at the other end of the floor to start a 13-0 run to end the third period. Sam Rychener added a reverse lay-up, plus Logan Rufenacht added a triple and King scored just seconds apart. Canidate Vickery added a pull-up jumper in transition and Rychener scored from the baseline to put the Blackbirds ahead 60-34 at the end of the stanza.
“We finally kept them out of the lane,” Leppelmeier said of the run. “We were getting stops by forcing a tough two (two-point shot), and getting the rebound and getting to run.”
Rychener opened the final period with a quick transition bucket, then Vickery added back-to-back scores. Rychener added a bucket from the low post on a feed from Detric Yoder to push the lead to 68-34 with six minutes still left to play.
“We have to get low post touches,” said Leppelmeier. “Sometimes we settle for the outside shot.”
Hilltop missed an opportunity with a one-and-one to score, then Pettisville went back to work. Mitchell Avina slashed to the basket, plus Austin Horning scored on a putback, Eli Grieser tallied a three-point play and King added a basket – all in a two minute stretch – to help the lead grow to 77-34.
The Cadets did get a couple free throws from Easton Heer to end the drought, but the damage had been done. One more basket made the final 79-36.
In the final period, the Cadets finished 0 of 6 from the floor with four turnovers.
Pettisville attacked the rim early to take the lead. King and Vickery both scored after pulling down offensive rebounds to help the Blackbirds to a 12-2 early lead. Vickery added an elbow jumper and trey as the lead was 21-9 after one period.
“Rebounding is all effort,” mentioned Leppelmeier. “In my mind, if we aren’t getting offensive rebounds, we aren’t playing hard enough. We did a good job of getting the basketball in the paint early on. I think that helped with the quick start.”
Hilltop did make a couple runs in the contest. Christian McKinney closed the first half with a score, plus Austin Schaffner opened the second half with a bucket to make it a 36-24 game. The lead got as small as 10 when Schaffner scored on a three-point play and Sam Shilling canned a triple on back-to-back possessions. Jacoby answered with five quick points to push the lead back to 45-30 with 5:46 left in the third.
“We turned the ball over too many times in a stretch and that got Hilltop back in the game,” added the Pettisville coach.
For the game, Pettisville shot 56 percent (35-62) from the floor. The Blackbirds finished with 36 rebounds, 15 came on the offensive end. They also committed just nine turnovers.
Vickery and Rychener finished the game with 22 points each. Jacoby added 14 points.
Hilltop was 15 of 38 shooting the basketball with 16 turnovers.
Pettisville (6-0) has a showdown at Archbold Friday.
“I think it’ll be a great test,” Leppelmeier said of the game. “That’s the ultimate test for us.”
Reach Randy Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org