In a league like the Buckeye Border Conference where each team plays one another twice, at times, the two games can be quite different from each other. To that point, while Pettisville got the best of Stryker 53-51 on the road on Dec. 14, Friday they hosted the Panthers and fell by a 54-44 final.
This was the Blackbirds’ first BBC blemish as they are now 9-1 in the league. Stryker improved to 8-1.
The Panthers took a 5-4 lead on a Luke Holsopple three-pointer 1:57 in, and they would not trail the rest of the way. Stryker’s Kristian Grapengeter then tacked on a pair of free throws, Izayah Ferguson scored inside, Chase Glock split a pair from the foul line and Logan Boetz knocked down a three to make it 13-4 at the 2:58 mark of the first quarter.
A bucket for Pettisville’s Graeme Jacoby broke up the Panther run, but they would start another one. Glock scored inside followed by a Holsopple triple, Daniel Fether hit a floater, then a Jacoby three-point play on a shot made at the buzzer made it 20-9 after one.
“That can’t happen,” said Pettisville coach Brian Leppelmeier of his team’s first quarter struggles. “They got too many good looks on the perimeter. We lost some of their shooters, and they’re very good. They hit those shots. And we struggled offensively. We weren’t finishing at the other end of the floor. That’s just kind of a bad combination.”
The Blackbirds got things going in the second period, holding the Panthers to just five points.
The two teams combined for just seven points in the first 5:29 of the frame. Dillon King of Pettisville converted a putback basket and Fether responded with five straight for Stryker.
It was all Birds from there as Jacoby scored five straight, Detric Yoder went backdoor for a deuce, and Landon Roth got a putback at the horn to get them within 25-20 at the half.
King split a pair at the line to begin the second half, however, the Panthers would open it up again.
Holsopple buried a three, Glock added a pair of baskets, Canidate Vickery got Pettisville on the board with a hoop, but Ferguson followed with two straight hoops. Roth stuck one back in at the 3:49 mark, Holsopple again hit from long range for Stryker, and Ferguson hit a pair of free throws, giving them a 41-25 lead with 2:52 left.
“I thought we had a little momentum going into the third quarter,” admitted Leppelmeier. “We missed some (shots). Sam Rychener had a couple good looks. Those things just bounced in and out. They come down and they score. They had things in rhythm. We just could never get them out of rhythm offensively there in that stretch.”
The Birds inched closer in the final minutes, but Stryker still led by 10, 41-31, heading into the fourth.
The Panthers were held to three points for over five and a half minutes in the final stanza, allowing Pettisville to get a little closer. They pulled to within 44-39 with 2:26 to play after 1 of 2 free throws by Justin Rupp and a basket from King.
However, Holsopple then scored inside, Ferguson hit a pair from the line and Glock layed one in to bump it back to 50-39 with just 1:04 remaining.
Jacoby paced Pettisville with 13 points while Roth chipped in with 11. Ferguson and Glock each had 13 for Stryker.
“We’ve got to be able to defend right away,” said Leppelmeier on the biggest takeaway from the defeat. “Take what we get in our scouting report and apply that (to the game). I didn’t think we did a very good job of that tonight. So that’s gonna be on the coaches, we need to hammer that home a little bit more.”
The Birds then earned a 63-56 road win over Ayersville Saturday night. Yoder had 21 points to lead the way in that contest.
Pettisville (16-2) is at Hilltop this Friday before hosting Hicksville on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010