Blackbird defense stifles Delta in win

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor

Pettisville shot just 30 percent from the field and converted only 19 of 38 free throws Saturday night at home against Delta.

However, what coach Brian Leppelmeier’s Blackbirds DID do was get in front of, trap and harass Delta into 25 percent shooting, including only 1 for 10 in a decisive fourth quarter in a 50-35 triumph.

The win got Pettisville to 2-0 on the season while Delta fell to 0-2.

“Oh definitely,” said Leppelmeier as to his defense being the key. “We felt Delta was getting into the key in the second quarter but we helped out well and made them take some shots that were forced later in the game and to hold a team to 35 points, well we played them pretty well.”

Four three-point baskets, two by Detric Yoder, one from Canidate Vickery and one at the first quarter buzzer from Justin Rupp gave Pettisville a 16-6 lead.

However, Gabe Freeman’s three-pointer and six points from Bowen Green helped slice that 10 point lead to just four at 22-18, as Pettisville went scoreless from the field until the 34 second mark of the half when Caleb Rychener scored on a putback for a 24-18 advantage.

“That second quarter we got a little lax with our effort and energy,” said Leppelmeier. “Maybe some of that had to do with the double weekend the first week. We found a way to grind it out in second half.”

Friday night the Blackbirds beat Fayette 61-33.

Freeman’s drive, then Peyton Phillips’ turnaround jumper got Delta within 31-29 with 40 ticks left in the third but Rupp struck again just before the buzzer on a pull up jumper to keep the Blackbirds ahead by 33-29 heading into the final stanza.

Phillips scored inside and Freeman hit 2 of 2 from the foul line around Yoder’s fourth triple of the night to make it 36-33, but those points would be the last for Delta until just 1:15 remained in the contest.

Rupp began an 11-0 run with a push shot from the key and after a parade of Birds went to the foul line converting 7 of 11, Vickery finished it with a score off a scramble for a loose ball with 1:57 left to make it 47-33.

“I liked our start of the game tonight, and I really liked our finish,” stated Leppelmeier.

Freeman led all scorers with 15 for Delta. The Panthers opened the season the night before with a 63-32 loss at home to Ottawa Hills.

Yoder’s 12 on the four three-pointers led a balanced Blackbird output.

Delta (0-2) next hosts Tinora this Friday and Lake on Saturday. Pettisville (2-0) hosts Edon Thursday and travels to Montpelier on Saturday.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor

Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]

Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]