Three games in four days with two long trips on the road is usually something reserved for NBA basketball not a high school basketball team.
However, after beating Patrick Henry and Edon on the road over the weekend, Evergreen used a solid defensive effort to beat Pettisville 53-43 Monday night on their home floor, improving to 15-1 on the season.
Pettisville fell to 11-6.
The Vikings turned the Blackbirds over three times in the first two minutes in which Evan Lumbrezer, Jack Etue and Nate Brighton turned into points and an 8-3 lead.
Mitchell Avina’s second triple got Pettisville back to a two point deficit, but Lumbrezer found Brighton for a layin, and Brighton went post-to-post to Mason Loeffler for a three-point play to give Evergreen a 13-6 advantage.
“I thought that Jack Etue and Evan Lumbrezer did a good job staying in front of Avina and (Max) Leppelmeier,” Viking mentor Jerry Keifer said of the early run. “They did a great job winning the one-one-one battles and causing some turnovers that led to easy baskets and gave us a lead.”
“I think at the beginning of the game we didn’t execute our game plan and that is a credit to them,” said Blackbird coach Brian Leppelmeier. “The turnovers early hurt us, and the fact they were able to get inside as well.”
Two Ethan Loeffler baskets along with a Mason Loeffler triple bumped the Viking lead to 20-11 before Graeme Jacoby’s bucket with 53 seconds left in the first sliced the Viking lead to 20-13.
Avina’s third triple of the half along with a pull up jumper, helped bring the Blackbirds to within a single point with 4:30 to go in the half. The Vikings responded as Mason Loeffler’s seven points and Brighton’s roll to the rim bumped the Vikes back up 29-22 by half.
“We haven’t played a 2-3 zone all year long,” said Leppelmeier. “The first possession against a Pettisville 2-3 zone was revealed tonight and I thought our kids made the right adjustments in the second quarter. After giving up 20 in the first quarter I thought our kids battled back and we stopped turning it over.”
Jaton Zuver’s basket inside 30 seconds into the third chopped the score to 29-24; however, Evergreen held the Blackbirds scoreless the next four minutes, and Mason Loeffler and Brighton scored 11 straight to fuel Evergreen’s lead to 40-24.
Isaac Reynolds hit two straight including a triple, and Jacoby knocked home two from the foul line and a bucket inside to start the fourth to bring the Blackbirds back to a seven point margin. But again, Evergreen was suffocating defensively, this time holding the Blackbirds without a point for the next 5:18.
“We did a great job defensively fronting Jacoby with backside help, it was an adjustment we made to slow him down,” said Keifer. “I thought we were very connected defensively early and it kind of set the tone.
“They were playing a man down with the younger Jacoby (Caden), being out. They are still a solid team – well-coached. I thought the zone gave us some problems early and we made some adjustments to get the ball inside again.”
Another 11-0 Viking run – finished by Mason Loeffler’s high-flying two-handed slam on Lumbrezer’s pass in transition – pushed Evergreen up 51-33 before Max Leppelmeier broke the streak with a triple at the 2:04 mark.
“I think Jerry does a great job preparing his kids for each opponent,” coach Leppelmeier said of his opponent on the sideline. “We’ve had a lot of great battles with Evergreen over the years and I’ve always thought Evergreen is fundamentally sound and (they) work very hard on both ends of the floor and they always seem like they make the proper adjustments during the game as they did tonight. They were very well prepared.”
“That’s a good win for us,” expressed Keifer. “When you play three games in four days, this being the third, and you spent a lot of time on the bus in the last few days it’s a lot. But I also think it helps prepare us for the rest of the way and the teams we have to play to keep going in the right direction.”
Evergreen shot 21 of 42 for the game compared to 15 of 42 for Pettisville, but were just 3 of 15 from beyond the arc. Pettisville was 7 for 17 from long range.
Each Loeffler snared 10 rebounds as the Vikes outrebounded Pettisville 28-21.
Mason Loeffler had 28 to lead all scorers, while Brighton had 15. Avina had 18 for the Blackbirds.
Evergreen hits the road again this weekend when they visit Wauseon (13-5, 3-1 NWOAL) Friday for a crucial NWOAL contest, then Fayette on Saturday.
In contrast, Pettisville hosts North Central (10-9, 6-4 BBC) Friday and Hicksville on Saturday.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com