Pettisville and Wauseon closed out their last full weekend of the regular season on opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Blackbirds suffered a 49-46 home loss to Montpelier Friday and 54-29 defeat at Wauseon Saturday, while the Indians were also victorious over Delta on Friday, 46-31.
Wauseon moves to 17-3 overall and 6-0 in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League ahead of a league championship bout with Archbold this Friday.
“It was a good double-win weekend for us,” stated Wauseon coach Chad Burt. “I thought defensively we were solid both nights and offensively we made some shots. Any time you make shots everything looks a little bit better.
“We’re playing as well as we can play, so that’s a good feeling.”
Pettisville fell to 13-6 and 9-2 in the Buckeye Border Conference.
During Saturday’s game, the Indians built up a double-digit lead in the first quarter and pretty much kept that up the rest of the way.
Kolton DeGroff, Jonas Tester, Connar Penrod, and Isaac Wilson each scored for the Indians in the first five-plus minutes to give them a 14-4 advantage. Then, Max Leppelmeier’s deuce for Pettisville and a Tester jumper kept the margin at 10 after one.
“They’re just such a veteran team,” said Pettisville coach Brian Leppelmeier of Wauseon. “They are well-coached, knocking down the shots. They find the open man so well. They pass the basketball extremely well. You have to defend every part of the floor. At some point and time, if we’re not down there trying to kind of keep up offensively, you’re not gonna keep stopping them over and over again.”
Wauseon was still up 10 in the second period when a DeGroff triple with two ticks to go extended it to 26-13 at the half.
Despite a strong start to the third quarter from the Birds, the Indians’ athleticism ended up being too much to handle.
A pair of Max Leppelmeier 3-pointers with 1 of 2 foul shots by Tester in between trimmed Pettisville’s deficit to 27-19 at the 4:20 mark. However, they would then be outscored 14-5 over the final four minutes.
Wilson and Tester each scored in the paint for the Indians, Leppelmeier responded from long range, but Tester’s three-point play made it a 34-22 difference with 2:35 left in the frame.
“I thought our movement in the second half was better. I thought our ball movement was better; I thought our people movement was better. I thought we finished a little better at the rim. (Cayden) Jacoby is long at the rim and I thought he really bothered us at times — especially in the first half. So give them credit. But yeah, I thought we attacked it much better the second half,” Burt said.
Wauseon finished it off with a 13-5 fourth quarter advantage.
The Blackbirds ran a zone defense for much of the game to try and neutralize the Indians, but in the end they could not slow down Tester and company. It was made more difficult since they are without one of their senior leaders — who is certainly missed on the defensive side.
“I think we held them scoreless there for a few minutes. I thought our energy was good on the defensive end of the floor,” said coach Leppelmeier of the early portion of the third. “Obviously, we have a little different defensive scheme than we’ve had here in the past with Josh Horning being out. Our offense, when we get some stops on them, we have to cash in on the other end. We just kept coming up dry. I told our kids I was proud of their defensive effort at times, but I think we’re better than 29 points.”
For the Indians’ defense, they were able to limit Pettisville’s lanky 6’6” forward Cayden Jacoby to eight points scattered over four quarters.
“We battled,” said Burt on his team’s effort inside versus Jacoby. “He is long and he is getting better, and he’s getting stronger. Very skilled, so I liked how our kids competed. We were obviously giving up some size. I thought we played pretty physical and again, overall, did a nice job on him.“
Tester paced all scorers with 20 points. Penrod added 11 and Wilson nine.
Leppelmeier had 17 points to lead Pettisville.
After falling 49-46 against Montpelier Friday in BBC play, the Birds will now need to win at Stryker this Friday to claim the league title outright.
The same night, Wauseon takes on Archbold (17-4, 6-0 NWOAL) for the NWOAL championship.
“Obviously it’s for all the marbles,” Burt said. “They are playing as well as they can play. They’ve won 14 out of 15 or whatever that number is. And we’re playing well. Both — knock on wood — coming into the game healthier than we were round one. It’s gonna look a little different. Everything’s on the line and we’re looking forward to that opportunity.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.