After overcoming a 33-25 deficit heading into the fourth quarter, Pettisville’s Morgan Leppelmeier nailed a pair of free throws with 13 seconds remaining and their defense stopped Wauseon on its last possession to pick up the win on the road on the opening night of the girls basketball season Friday night, 40-39.
“We’ve talked the whole preseason about getting stronger as the game goes on. We found some energy (at the end),” said Pettisville coach Jason Waldvogel. “Our defense gave us some energy. Ines Coranado, a senior coming in and doing some great things for us.”
A Pettisville three pointer started off the fourth period, then a putback basket for Pettisville’s Kate Kauffman pulled the Blackbirds to within three, 33-30, with 6:48 to go.
After a timeout by the Indians, Alexa Leppelmeier went backdoor for the Blackbirds, got fouled and tacked on a free throw to knot the score at 33.
Wauseon’s Karli Penrod hit a pull up jump shot and added on a free throw to complete a three-point play which put the Indians on top with 4:29 left in the game. She finished with 18 points on the night.
“I felt like in preseason I was waiting for her to take over and do the things that I knew that she could do. She did a great job of that tonight,” said Wauseon coach Ashley Oyer of Penrod. “She did a great job of handling the basketball and then looking to score on the offensive end as well.”
A pair of baskets by Morgan Leppelmeier put the Blackbirds on top, then Penrod added a pair of free throws to make it 38-37 Wauseon with 2:21 to go.
Morgan Leppelmeier then split a pair from the foul line to re-tie the score. Wauseon was given two chances to reclaim the lead, but missed consecutive front ends of a 1-and-1.
“She is a player,” said Waldvogel of Morgan Leppelmeier. “The rest of the teammates have confidence in her and she stepped up.”
A Wauseon steal allowed Morgan Bzovi to draw a foul on the Blackbird defense as she split a pair, giving Indians the 39-38 edge with 46 seconds to go.
However, Morgan Leppelmeier was hit on a jumper and calmly made two foul shots with 13 seconds remaining to push Pettisville in front for good. Wauseon had a pair of looks with under two seconds left, however, a shot by Penrod and Jana Armstrong’s putback attempt fell short and the Blackbirds were victorious.
“We were just trying to make the game a little more chaotic,” said Waldvogel of his team’s defensive adjustments. “We thought they were controlling the game when it was just a slow tempo.
“It ended up in our favor.”
Oyer thought that her squad’s youth showed up down the stretch.
“We are young and not overly experienced at the guard position,” she said. “Executing down the stretch is something that hopefully we are going to get better at as the season goes. You’ve got to remember, we have two sophomore point guards.”
A triple for Anna Marshall gave Wauseon a 3-0 advantage in the first quarter. Pettisville responded as Kate Kauffman and Alexa Leppelmeier converted buckets around a mid-range jumper for Armstrong.
However, Wauseon extended its lead to 9-4 with 3:41 left in the opening period after Lexi Sauber’s basket in the post and two free throws for Marshall.
One of two free throws for Kauffman cut the Indian lead to four after one.
The Indians and Blackbirds went back-and-forth to begin the second quarter, then Penrod’s triple gave Wauseon a 14-9 lead with 5:05 until the halftime break.
Penrod made two foul shots and a Wauseon steal led to a Brianna Coblentz layup around Kate Kauffman’s bucket for the Birds. Coblentz would go down with what looked to be a significant knee injury on a layup attempt a little later in the half.
Armstrong extended the Indian lead to 20-11 with 3:09 left in the half on a basket down low. Anya Kauffman answered with one of two free throws for the Birds, then Penrod nailed a jumper for Wauseon, but Alexa Leppelmeier’s deep three as time expired made it 22-15 at the break.
Penrod scored six for the Indians while Morgan Leppelmeier added nine for the Birds and the score went in favor of Wauseon after three, 33-25.
“It is how are you going to respond? And how are you going to bounce back?,” said Oyer on suffering the loss. “When you are put into that situation again, how are you gonna handle it. Hopefully we can learn from this.”
Morgan Leppelmeier paced the Birds with 18 points on the night while Alexa Leppelmeier scored 12. Armstrong added six for Wauseon.
The Indians travel to Archbold tomorrow for a non-league contest while Pettisville hosts Delta.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010