Pettisville takes advantage of free throw line in win over Liberty Center Saturday

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor

LIBERTY CENTER – Whoever said you can’t get anything for free didn’t see Pettisville’s 55-29 win over the Liberty Center Tigers Saturday night in boys basketball.

While the Tigers were shooting a woeful 8 for 24 from the foul stripe, the Blackbirds hit 18 of their first 20, before finishing 18 of 23 that helped give Pettisville a weekend sweep after a 55-14 win over Hilltop Friday.

The Blackbirds are now 12-4 on the season.

“We hit free throws when we need to tonight,” explained Blackbird coach Brian Lepplemeier. “I think we did a good job throughout tonight. We battled through some foul trouble early on, shots weren’t falling early on, so I think our kids battled and adjusted to a physical game here and yes the free throw shooting especially into the third quarter was huge keeping us on top.”

Sam Rychener’s six first quarter points helped the Blackbirds take a 12-10 lead before Cam Krugh’s bank brought the Tigers into a tie at the end of eight minutes.

Carter Burdue’s backdoor hoop to start the second gave LC a 14-12 lead, however, the Tigers would not score again until there were 42 seconds left in the half.

In the meantime, Pettisville used a dominating 12-2 second quarter advantage on the glass to spark a 12-0 run.

Canidate Vickery’s baseline drive brought the Blackbirds back to even before Graeme Jacoby put Pettisville up for good with a pair from the line with 3:36 left in the half.

While the Tigers were going one-and-done at their end, Detric Yoder hit a pull up jumper, Jacoby got a third chance hoop off the boards, Rychener hit two more from the line and then a short baseline jumper to spur the Blackbirds into a 24-14 lead. Bryce Bailey’s bucket pulled LC within 24-16 at the half.

“I thought our kids did a great job getting bodies on people,” said Leppelmeier. “We blocked guys out and everybody got involved with the rebounding effort.

“Some people really don’t see that advantage on the glass and that’s been huge for us in some of our victories lately.”

Jacoby’s putback only added on to 7 of 8 from the foul line for the Blackbirds in the third, the last two from Logan Rufenacht with 1:57 left to blow the Pettisville lead to 35-21.

Rufenacht’s first of a pair of fourth quarter triples put the Birds up 44-25 and the seconds made it 49-28 with 4:19 left before Pettisville played keep away, running out the clock.

Pettisville doubled up Liberty on the boards 36-18, and committed 11 turnovers to 14 for the Tigers.

Rychener led all scorers with 14 points. Rufenacht got all 12 of his in the second half and Vickery added 10.

Pettisville hosts Ayersville Saturday night.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor

Reach Joe Blystone at

Reach Joe Blystone at