Michael Jordan once willed his way through a bout with the flu and food poisoning to score 38 points in a fifth game win over Utah that eventually boosted the Chicago Bulls to an NBA title.
Sean Adkins didn’t score 38 points and he sure isn’t Michael Jordan.
But after having to leave the floor twice with, shall we say the same flu-like tendencies, the Blackbird senior knocked in two free throws with less than a minute left to give Pettisville a lead, and the Blackbirds hung on for a 38-36 win at Stryker Thursday, Dec. 1, in non-league boys basketball.
“He toughed it out,” Pettisville coach Brian Leppelmeier said of his senior swingman. “I wasn’t sure he was going to come back after the first time he went out or the second but then all of a sudden he’s next to me and said ‘coach I’m ready to go’. He missed school this week and I’m not sure Cayden Jacoby is feeling real well either but it was just a gritty effort.”
With the exception of Joey Ripke, the Birds were nearly non-existent offensively in the first half.
Stryker’s Elijah Juillard got inside three times and Jacob Cadwell hit a couple of floaters to counter Ripke’s nine first half points, and the Panthers one-upped the Blackbirds as Michael Donovan also hit a pair of hoops to give Stryker a 25-15 halftime lead.
Whatever Leppelmeier said at the break woke up the Birds in the third quarter.
Jacoby, Jack Leppelmeier, Jaret Beck and Ripke all scored to help close the gap to 31-28 before Mateo Villaneuva hit from deep in the corner to give Stryker a 34-28 lead heading into the fourth.
“We challenged our guys at halftime,” Coach Leppelmeier explained. “We had to clean up the glass. It really wasn’t about X’s and O’s. We had to be tougher on our part. We contested shots in the first half and then stood and let them get the putback and we needed to end a defensive possession with a rebound.”
After playing a perfect floor game in the first half with nary a turnover, the Panthers began to unravel as Pettisville forced seven straight empty possessions as Stryker forced up four bad shots and turned the rock over three more times.
Beck’s backcut to the rim and Jacoby’s post and push move helped Pettisville get within 36-35 before Adkins went to the line and canned 2-2 to give the Birds their first lead since early in the game.
“We wanted to make sure Cayden touched the ball, and when they came with the double we got a couple cuts we scored on,” said Coach Leppelmeier of the difference coming down the last few minutes. “Joey Ripke was key defensively as well. He did a nice job controlling (Levi) Barnum. He had a couple key steals and deflections and also key rebounds late. If it wasn’t for him in the first half hitting a big three and then an “and-1”, this could’ve gotten away from us.”
Leppelmeier split a pair from the stripe with 7.2 left on the clock for a two-point lead and Juillard’s last-second spin move went awry.
Besides slamming the door on the Panthers by holding them to 11 second half points — including just two in the fourth quarter — Pettisville was the dominating factor on the glass, outrebounding Stryker by five in the second half.
“The glaring stat, at least in my opinion was seven offensive rebounds for Stryker in the half,” said the Blackbird coach. “That was just unacceptable. In the second half we had them for just one offensive rebound and that was a big key.”