At times, especially at the end of the the third quarter and at the start of the fourth, it appeared that the more experienced Pettisville Blackbirds were going to be able to hold off the hometown Wauseon Indians in girls basketball Tuesday night. However, Wauseon rebounded from an eight point deficit a little over a minute into the fourth quarter to defeat the visiting Blackbirds 45-43.
“We didn’t panic,” said Wauseon coach Ashley Oyer. “We are very young, but you can start to see the experience from the games that we’ve had. So they didn’t panic. And I thought we were patient on the offensive end which got us some good easy looks which got us back in the game.”
Outside of a few ties, Pettisville was in control for much of the third quarter. They started a run near the end of the stanza with a bucket in the post from Nichole Foor. Morgan Leppelmeier followed with a three-point play, Sydney Zirkle of Wauseon answered with a basket of her own, and Pettisville’s Mikayla Graber hit a three to give them a 32-26 lead going into the fourth.
In the final stanza, the Indians were able to come back and eventually grab the lead for good by getting to the foul line and hitting 10 of 12 attempts. Ultimately, they outscored Pettisville 19-11 in the fourth quarter.
The quarter started out with a Leppelmeier basket which bumped the Blackbird lead to eight, 34-26, 1:07 in. But, that was only the second made field goal by the junior guard as she was held to nine points.
“We were kind of just trying to get Leppelmeier to give it up everytime she got it,” said Oyer of her team’s defensive strategy against the Blacbirds. “Then it was just kind of a cluster from there, just kind of rotate and run and jump. And I thought, they had a couple easy backdoors where we didn’t execute where we needed to be. But I thought, as it went along, we did a much better job (defensively).”
Zirkle answered with a bucket for the Indians, then a combined 6 of 6 from the line by Rylee Campbell, Sam Aeschliman and Ally Tefft tied the game at 34 with 4:08 remaining.
Wauseon came up with another defensive stop at the other end, leading to an Aeschliman triple to give them the edge with 3:42 left.
The two teams continued to battle and after an Elizabeth Beck got Pettisville within 39-38, Zirkle got a putback hoop at the other end to extend the lead once again. Then Campbell hit a pair from the line and Chelsie Raabe and Zirkle each went 1 of 2 for the Indians, all in response to two free throws from Leppelmeier which made it 45-40 with 22 seconds remaining.
Beck converted a desperation three with two ticks to go but the Blackbirds would not get another possession.
“We played well in spurts,” said Pettisville coach Jason Waldvogel on the game. “We had several defensive breakdowns and Wauseon did a great job of taking advantage of them.”
In the first quarter Pettisville led 9-3 over halfway through, but after Brandi Schnitkey’s triple which got them to that mark, Wauseon went on a 10-0 run to end the frame. Aeschliman had five points during that stretch, while Anna Koenig added a three-pointer and Zirkle a basket underneath.
The Indians led nearly all of the second quarter until Beck’s three with 19 seconds left knotted it at 18 heading into halftime.
Zirkle, a sophomore, led the way for the Indians with a double-double of 15 points and 16 rebounds.
“I thought Syd Zirkle did a great job tonight,” said Oyer. “When we needed buckets, she was present in the post. And she did a nice job of, even though the Foor girl was taller than her, I thought she did a nice job of getting position and going up and finishing.”
Campbell added 11 points and Aeschliman 9. Beck finished with 12 points and Brandi Schnitkey 11 for Pettisville.
Wauseon (2-8) welcomes Patrick Henry for a Northwest Ohio Athletic League contest Friday night. Pettisville (5-5) is back in action next Tuesday when they host North Central.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010