Pettisville made sure that Friday night’s boys basketball rematch with Fayette was not a repeat of the double overtime thriller from Jan. 3, which saw the Blackbirds come out on top 62-61.
This time, despite trailing 23-19 at the half, they doubled up the Eagles 40-20 after the break in a 59-43 Buckeye Border Conference win.
“I was pleased with the way our kids responded,” said Pettisville coach Brian Leppelmeier. “I think we need basketball games like that where you’re down, you have to grind it out. Fayette’s hitting shots, we weren’t. So I thought our kids responded really well. Kind of playing from behind, getting that lead and securing that lead.”
“We came out in the second half not quite as focused,” noted Fayette mentor Todd Mitchell. “They got the ball inside against us, and we had a hard time matching up with their bigs inside.
“We (were) not playing our pack-line defense like we wanted to play there towards the end. Our possessions in the fourth quarter were not real good. We were playing too much one-on-one basketball and not playing five against five.”
The Blackbirds trailed for much of the first quarter until a Mitchell Avina three-pointer put them in front after one, 9-8.
Both teams held narrow leads in the second quarter, but when Detric Yoder got the roll on a layup at the 3:43 mark, Pettisville went ahead 17-15. Fayette responded with triples from Clayton Pheils and Jose Aguilar to take the lead back with exactly three minutes remaining.
Sam Rychener converted a drive to the hoop for the Birds, but Pheils’ jumper with 2:19 left put the score at 23-19, and that’s where it would remain at the half.
Pheils and Trey Keefer, Fayette’s two high-performing guards, were limited to only seven first half points. In fact, all five points scored by Pheils came before halftime, and Keefer had just seven points through three quarters.
“That’s everybody’s first thing on the scouting report, is stop Pheils and Keefer. And they did,” explained Mitchell. “We got off to a good start with (Noah) Brinegar hitting some threes for us. So that made them adjust a little bit. And then, once we started slowing down hitting the threes, they started packing it in more. They always have two erasers inside the paint if they make a mistake on the perimeter, with (Graeme) Jacoby and Rychener. They are a really good team and we didn’t give them our best effort in the second half tonight.”
Pettisville’s first mission was to find and contain Pheils.
“Clayton Pheils, I tell our guys, he’s in range when he has the basketball,” said Leppelmeier on his team’s defense against Pheils. “Just making sure that we keep him in front, (and) have a hand on all of his shots. I thought we did a good job of keeping him in front and not letting him get into the lane. And he does a great job of getting to the free throw line. So I think we did of keeping him off the line.”
The Birds were able to outscore the Eagles 17-5 in the third stanza. Jacoby got them within one thanks to a three-point play 17 seconds in, then later they took the lead for good at 30-26 on a basket inside by Rychener and two Yoder free throws.
Keefer responded with a drive to the hoop for the Eagles, but the Birds closed the third with a 6-0 run. Yoder drilled a triple, Jacoby’s putback hoop, and one of two free throws from Logan Rufenacht gave them a 36-28 lead after three.
Jacoby scored 8 of his team-leading 17 points in the fourth quarter as the Birds finished off the Eagles. Rychener tacked on 14 points – 10 of which came in the first half – as Pettisville was able to control the paint.
“I think in the first game we were effective inside,” stated Leppelmeier. “Graeme had a big night. Tonight, with both of them catching the basketball. That was the thing in the first half, I didn’t think we were catching it (well). We weren’t trying to impose our will very much down low. I thought in the second half, our guys did a better job of catching the basketball and finishing around the rim.”
Yoder had 15 points for the Birds while Rufenacht added 10. Keefer was the only Eagle in double figures, finishing with 20.
Evergreen shoots down Pettisville, 60-46
After a red-hot start by both teams, Evergreen clamped down inside defensively, allowing Pettisville to score just 16 second half points and took a 60-46 decision at Pettisville to go to 16-4 on the year Saturday.
The Blackbirds, now 15-6, can claim a BBC title tie with Stryker with a win over Edon Friday night.
“This is a quality, quality win,” Viking coach Jerry Kefier emphasized. “To come over here and beat a very, very, very good team like Pettisville has at their place, this is a high quality victory.”
Pettisville used the twin towers of Sam Rychener and Graeme Jacoby to get inside again and again in the first quarter, as the duo combined for 11 in the period.
However, the Vikings were smoking hot from outside the three-point arc as Chandler Lumbrezer and Nate Brighton each knocked home two from long range, and Mason Loeffler added another, to forge an 18-18 tie after the first.
Bryce Hudik’s pull up jumper, then seven straight from Loeffler on a left wing jumper, a scoop and score that turned into a three-point play, and finally a bomb from way out on the left side gave Evergreen a 30-23 lead with 3:30 left in the half.
Pettisville responded as Detric Yoder hit from midrange, Rychener drove baseline for a stuff, and Jacoby scored off the offensive glass with a three-point play to knot things back up with 1:05 left.
Loeffler’s slash through the left side 10 seconds later gave Evergreen a 32-30 lead at the break.
Rychener and Jacoby combined for 18 in the first half but that was soon to change.
After playing the entire first half without a miscue, Pettisville committed four turnovers early in the third quarter as the Vikings sent help on the Pettisville big men and Evergreen took advantage.
Hudik and Lumbrezer stuck wide open triples as the Vikes vaulted to a 39-30 lead.
Yoder forced up a shot that fell and Jacoby scored inside through traffic to get the Birds within 39-35.
Loeffler scored on a dish from Nic Borjevich, and Brighton’s offensive rebound gave the Vikings a 43-35 lead before Yoder hit again from 17 feet to get the Blackbirds back to 43-37.
Jacoby went outside and canned a baseline jumper to begin the fourth, and Yoder’s long triple got Pettisville within 46-42 with 5:10 left.
But Lumbrezer’s back-to-back baskets inside from Loeffler and Brighton began a 12-2 Viking run in the next four minutes.
Evergreen also knocked home 8 of 11 from the foul line as the Blackbirds were forced to foul.
The four third quarter turnovers were the only ones Pettisville was guilty of, while Evergreen only committed five.
However after shooting just under 50 percent in the first half, Pettisville was just 6 for 15 in the second.
Meanwhile, after a 52 percent first half, the Vikings went one better, going 8 of 12 in the second.
“In the second half, we did the same things we did against Archbold in the second half,” said Keifer. “We worked until we got what we liked and we were pretty good shooting the ball in the second half.”
Lumbrezer led all scorers with 22, and Loeffler added 19.
Yoder got nine of his 16 points in the second half as Evergreen limited Jacoby – who had 10 at halftime – to just the two field goals. Rychener, who had eight at the break, scored a single free throw in the last 16 minutes.
“I thought we played pretty good defense overall,” said Keifer. “After the offensive showcase in the first quarter, we got a little better in the second, and in the second half we just came out and shut them down inside.
“The post defense with Nate was better, the help was better, we got deflections and some big blocks.”
Evergreen finishes the regular season and NWOAL play at Bryan Friday before starting the Division III tourney trail at Oregon Clay against Lake on Feb. 27.
Pettisville drew a first round bye and will play in a Division IV sectional final March 1 against the winner of Fayette and Montpelier at Bryan.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010