In what was a one point game heading into the fourth quarter, the Pettisville girls basketball team held Liberty Center to just three points in the final period to defeat the Tigers, 38-29, at home Tuesday night.
“We put a little more ball pressure on,” said Pettisville coach Jason Waldvogel on what was the difference defensively down the stretch. “And just limiting the number of shots (Liberty Center took) was really important.”
The Blackbirds took a 7-4 lead in the opening quarter on a pair of free throws by Nichole Foor and 1 of 2 at the line for Brandi Schnitkey, but Emma Babcock’s putback basket for Liberty Center made it 7-6 after one.
“Early on, probably the biggest keys were rebounding. We weren’t taking care of the boards and things,” said Waldvogel. “We were switching up defenses a little bit. And then probably the second thing was, we knew they were a team that, they do a lot of scoring out of transition. They like to do that.
“We settled down in the second half. We went through about every defense, and it ended up in man-to-man where we started. Basically, we defended well and we rebounded really well in that second half and that was the difference.”
They began to build their lead in the second quarter as Alexa Leppelmeier scored seven points around a putback bucket from Liberty Center’s Jerica Hollenbaugh on a missed free throw, making it 14-8 at the 5:35 mark.
Hollenbaugh again scored inside with 5:07 to go, but Morgan Leppelmeier split a pair from the foul line for the Birds, Alexa Leppelmeier added a floater, and Lynnsey Crouch scored inside to make the difference nine points.
A pair of Olivia Leatherman triples for the Tigers and a bucket from Alexa Leppelmeier put the halftime margin at 21-16.
Peyton Spieth of Liberty Center began the third with a basket, Morgan Leppelmeier hit a jump shot for Pettisville, and Sydni Altman buried a three for the Tigers to get them within two less than three minutes into the second half.
After a Schnitkey deuce for the Birds, the Tigers took their first lead since the score was 2-0 when Meghan Skeens knocked down a triple and Leatherman converted a floater, putting them ahead 26-25 with 2:47 to go.
However, the Tigers would only hit one more shot the rest of the way. Alexa Leppelmeier hit a jumper at the 2:24 mark to give the Birds the lead back for good.
Liberty Center’s lone field goal down the stretch came from Altman with 4:56 left in the contest to make it 31-28. Pettisville would score the next seven points before 1 of 2 at the line by Skeens with just seven seconds left closed out the scoring.
Leading Pettisville was Alexa Leppelmeier who finished with a game high 17 points. Leatherman had 10 for Liberty Center.
For Pettisville’s seniors, Alexa Leppelmeier, Crouch and Tessa Waidelich, it is the final time they will play in front of their home crowd. The Blackbirds (16-5) are at Toledo Christian Thursday to put a bow on the regular season.
“They lead by example. And that’s the best thing,” said Waldvogel of his three seniors. “They are part of the team. There is no hierarchy with these kids.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010