For a long time Saturday night, Pettisville and Delta plodded along like a horse on a quagmire of a track, with possessions being deliberate, and at times very lengthy.
However, with the score tied at 19 halfway through the third quarter, it was Josh Horning with two energy-igniting hustle plays that boosted Pettisville from that deadlock to a 39-25 victory on their home floor.
With the game crawling along at 3-2 in the first quarter, 6’8” Cayden Jacoby scored three times in the final 2:18 along with a Joey Ripke three-pointer to give the blackbirds a 12-5 lead after one.
However in the second, the Blackbirds looked as if they were in need of a battery charge as they went just 1-6 from the floor and committed four turnovers.
Meanwhile Bryce Gillen, Bryar Knapp and James Ruple all canned open triples from the top of the key to bring the Panthers back within a point, 15-14, at the half.
“We talked at half about that we played Delta’s basketball game in the first half,” explained Pettisville veteran coach Brian Leppelmeier. “Delta did a great job flowing to the basketball and taking away what we wanted to do. I didn’t think we had good movement and basically they dictated the tempo on the defensive end.
“They were very patient offensively — very methodical. Those three threes were uncontested that we missed hedges on.”
The Panthers knotted the game with 3:58 left in the third when Gillen rolled to the basket for a lob to make it 19-19.
The senior guard hadn’t scored all night but beat the Panthers down the floor seven seconds after Gillen’s hoops to put Pettisville ahead.
Then 35 seconds later after a Delta turnover, Horning pulled in a Blackbird miss on two different occasions in the same possession that finished with Jacoby scoring from in close to double the Blackbird lead at 23-19.
“That was the difference in the game,” said Leppelmeier. “We had called timeout and said ‘we have to get to the glass’. We needed that little bit of spark, and the transition basket, the turnover, the offensive rebounds, that was just big.”
From that point Delta wouldn’t hit another field goal the rest of the night — going 0-12 the rest of the way — while Pettisville continued to build on the lead.
Max Leppelmeier hit a catch dribble and shoot triple, then added two free throws on a Panther technical foul for a 28-22 advantage after three.
Leppelmeier and Ripke each hit fourth quarter three-pointers and Jacoby added five more points as Pettisville cruised.
Jacoby scored 17 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Leppelmeier knocked in 11.
“Yes it makes it good for us when Max hits shots out there because it makes the defense extend and we can get the ball to Cayden,” stated coach Leppelmeier. “Sometimes we just tell him to get lost and slide from side to side, and the big three in the third was again Josh Horning going inside-out when they pinched on Cayden and Max got a good look.”
Pettisville shot just 14-40 from the floor but that was better than the Panthers 7-24.
Delta was guilty of 15 turnovers while Pettisville had just nine.
The night before, the Birds won at Hilltop 61-32 and with the Delta win added in, are 2-0 on the young season.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com