BRYAN – Pettisville got out to a hot start from beyond the arc in the opening half, and after Fayette closed to within four at the half, the Blackbirds bumped their lead to double digits in the third quarter and pulled away for a 69-51 win in a Division IV boys basketball sectional final Friday in Bryan.
The Blackbirds got a pair of putback baskets from their inside duo of Sam Rychener and Graeme Jacoby to end the opening quarter, as they led the Eagles 13-8.
Pettisville then used the three-ball to go on a 9-2 run to begin the second quarter.
After the Birds hit a pair of threes in the first quarter, Canidate Vickery hit one from deep on an out-of-bounds play 1:23 in. Clayton Pheils responded with a bucket for the Eagles, but Mitchell Avina was fouled on a three on the ensuing Pettisville possession and made all three shots, then Detric Yoder hit a triple for a 22-10 Blackbird lead.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve come out and hit threes like that in the beginning of a game,” said Pettisville coach Brian Leppelmeier. “That was definitely a nice start. I thought Fayette was really trying to kind of keep it packed in, trying to take away Sam (Rychener) and Graeme (Jacoby) inside. Which we kind of knew was going to happen. Our guys stepped up and hit some shots early on.”
The Blackbird coach was particularly happy with his team’s shot selection throughout the contest.
“Fayette’s a great team – well-coached,” he said. “They are gonna try to take away what you want to do. Maybe that initial first action. But our guys have to adjust. We talked about not forcing anything. That you’re gonna have to make an adjustment, they are gonna take something away. So I thought our patience (was key).”
Still down 12, the Eagles went on a run led by Pheils and Trey Keefer. Pheils scored on a drive to the hoop, Keefer put away a fast break opportunity, and Pheils knocked down a long three to get within 24-19 with 3:05 to go before halftime.
Fayette, behind a Keefer triple from the top of the key at the second quarter horn, got it to 28-24 at the half.
In the third, a Yoder triple, Logan Rufenacht’s bucket, and two Rychener free throws increased the lead to 11 in the early minutes of the half. The Eagles then got a pair of hoops from Keefer around a Jacoby basket off an assist from Vickery for Pettisville, however, a Yoder three-point play gave the Birds a 40-28 edge at the 3:50 mark.
Yoder paced all scorers with 27 points, an effort that included four three-pointers.
“He did a great job of leading our team,” said Leppelmeier of his senior leader. “I thought they were really putting a lot of pressure on him. He really shot it well from the outside tonight. He has the ability to do that. What a great time to step up and do it.”
Keefer layed one in at the other end, however a Vickery triple gave Pettisville its largest lead, 43-30, with 3:18 left in the third.
The Birds only increased their lead in the final stanza. They outscored Fayette 22-15 in the fourth.
Vickery chipped in 13 points for the Blackbirds.
“He shot well in the Wauseon game and struggled here a little bit late (in the season),” said Leppelmeier of Vickery.
“They are playing off, down in helping, and we have an open look,” he added, referring to the Eagles’ defensive strategy. “Boy he (Vickery) knocked down some big shots.”
Rychener added 10 and Jacoby 9 for Pettisville (17-6). Keefer scored 21 and Pheils had 15 to lead Fayette, who finishes the season at 12-10.
Pettisville next faces another Buckeye Border Conference foe, Stryker, Wednesday in a Division IV district semifinal at Napoleon beginning at approximately 8 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010