Every time Pettisville attempted to climb back into it, Stryker had an answer as the Panthers went to Pettisville and came away with a 59-52 win in a pivotal early season match-up Thursday in Buckeye Border Conference boys basketball.
“I didn’t think our energy and our effort was what it needed to be in a game like this,” admitted Pettisville coach Brian Leppelmeier after the game. “I thought Stryker really came out and had that energy, had that effort to start with. You know, I thought we had some looks at the basket but we just didn’t finish. Seemed like they (Stryker) were getting every loose ball. Getting the rebound that they needed to get. Just a little disappointed with that effort.”
Stryker had pulled away at the end of the first half, going into the break with a 25-17 advantage. However, the Blackbirds came out firing in the first 1:30 of the third quarter.
Logan Rufenacht opened the half with a three-pointer, then Detric Yoder followed suit with a triple the next time down for the Birds, trimming the deficit to 25-23 at the 7:08 mark. The Panthers were able to extend their lead after the teams exchanged buckets throughout the middle of the period.
First Logan Boetz knocked down two free throws, Chase Glock would bury a three at the top of the key, and Izayah Ferguson tacked on a deuce to push the Panthers’ lead to 37-27 with 2:01 left in the third.
Canidate Vickery got a few back for Pettisville with a triple, however, Boetz ended the quarter with consecutive buckets for Stryker.
“Stryker’s a great team,” stated Leppelmeier. “And we had our chances. There’s a couple times I thought we could cut it to one possession, (and) we’d miss a free throw. Maybe get a turnover, then we’d turn the basketball back over. Just didn’t really string anything together. I guess that’s what I’m a little disappointed in.”
The Birds made a last ditch effort to come back down 15 in the fourth quarter. Graeme Jacoby scored inside, Yoder was fouled shooting a three and hit 2 of 3 attempts, Jacoby scored but missed the and-one opportunity, and Mitchell Avina and Jacoby each hit a pair from the line to get it to 48-43 with 2:18 remaining.
However, the Panthers converted 11 of 12 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Pettisville led for less than two minutes the entire game. They took the lead briefly on Avina’s triple with 4:16 remaining in the opening quarter. Boetz split a pair from the line 16 seconds later, then Luke Holsopple hit two from the charity stripe, putting the Panthers in front for good.
“I think we can play harder than what we played tonight,” said Leppelmeier. “Again, it was in spurts (tonight), but we got to put that together. I thought Stryker played a complete game. Even when we made a little bit of a run, they didn’t flinch.”
Holsopple paced the Panthers with 18 points. Glock tacked on 13 and Boetz 12.
The Birds had three in double figures as Yoder finished with 16, Jacoby 14 and Avina 10. They were in action again Saturday, picking up a 74-20 win at Hilltop.
Pettisville (3-1, 2-1 BBC) travels to Tinora this Thursday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010