Wauseon guards and brothers, Jonas and Noah Tester, hit all seven of the Indians’ 3-pointers in 14 attempts by the team, all to counter 25 points from Pettisville’s Graeme Jacoby while on their way to a 50-43 win on the road in boys basketball Saturday night.
But for the Blackbirds, who already wrapped up the Buckeye Border Conference title, the focus of the night – outside of trying to win the game of course – was to get Jacoby his 1,000th point.
He did so with just under five minutes left in the third quarter, scoring a putback basket to get Pettisville within six, 23-17.
“It’s a great individual accomplishment for Graeme,” said Blackbird coach Brian Leppelmeier. “Graeme’s worked very hard. He’s a great teammate. He’s worked hard throughout his entire career. We talked about it in the locker room that, it’s a great individual accomplishment but I know I can speak on behalf of Graeme that really it’s a team award. I think it’s a great reward for our program.”
Wauseon made it as tough as they could on Jacoby, but at 6’5” with a wide frame, and with the Indians missing their main presence inside in Sean Brock due to a sprained ankle, he at times was too much to handle.
“We were trying to stop him, but he just really is that big and that strong…and that physical,” said Wauseon mentor Chad Burt. “I think over the years, we’ve probably contributed 100 points to that 1,000. He’s a great kid. Brian does a great job. You see the crowd that’s here, everbody gets excited for Wauseon and Pettisville. It’s exactly what we expected. We knew they weren’t gonna roll over.”
The Indians responded using great penetration to get through the teeth of the Pettisville zone defense, then kicking out for open threes when the opportunity presented itself.
After a Josh Horning jumper from the free throw line pulled the Birds within four at the 4:23 mark of the third, Jonas Tester converted an old-fashioned three-point play, then a regular 3-pointer, followed by a deuce and a 12-point Indian lead.
The next time down the floor Jacoby scored for the Birds, getting them within 10 at 31-21. The deficit would remain 10 at the end of the quarter, 33-23.
Jonas Tester helped the Indians to their largest lead of the game when his 3-pointer put them ahead 38-25 with 6:39 remaining. He ended up with a team-high 23 points, but was also key in containing Max Leppelmeier (0 points) on the defensive end.
“Really the 23 points was a bonus. Man was he good offensively,” said Burt of his sophomore. “I was more impressed with his defense. And he’s very capable of doing that. Often times the most athletic player on the floor, he’s got to realize that at times. Utilize it to his advantage and to our advantage. I thought tonight he was very good at both ends of the floor. Shot the ball well. One thing you know you’re gonna get from Jonas is he’s gonna attack the rim well. Athletically, he’s definitely one of our difference-makers.”
A Jacoby putback brought it to 42-35 with 3:33 left, then the Birds got it down to five following Mitchell Avina’s steal and score.
Pettisville struggled to get closer over the next few minutes, until an Avina triple made it a 47-43 game with 20 ticks to go. But Jonas and Noah Tester then went 3 of 4 from the line to seal it for the Indians.
The game started the same way it ended, with the Testers taking control. Jonas hit a 3-pointer 35 seconds in for the Indians, then after Jacoby scored inside for the Birds, Noah hit from deep at the 6:22 mark of the first quarter.
Later, with the game knotted at 9-9, Noah Tester drilled a triple which put Wauseon back in front. Connar Penrod closed the quarter with a bucket at the horn, giving the Indians a 14-9 lead after one.
“We were maybe about 2 of 18 from three. And from the outside, Wauseon was 7 of 14. That was a big thing for us, you had to be able to knock down some shots because they were plugging the paint. Graeme still gets 25 with them plugging the paint, (but) we have to be able to knock down some shots,” said coach Leppelmeier of his team’s struggles from the outside.
Jacoby book-ended the second quarter with baskets, keeping the Birds within striking distance at the half, 18-15.
Noah Tester added 13 points and Penrod 9 for Wauseon (15-6, 4-2 NWOAL). Avina tacked on 11 for Pettisville (13-8, 11-0 BBC).
Each team earned road victories Friday night.
The Indians won 48-22 at Patrick Henry in NWOAL action, while the Blackbirds defeated rival Fayette 45-37 in BBC play.
Wauseon closes the regular season hosting Delta this Friday. Pettisville welcomes Edon that same night.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010