The Wauseon girls basketball team looked early on as if they were headed for their first win of the season Tuesday at Pettisville, but the Blackbirds battled back from what was once an 11-point difference in the third quarter, to defeat the Indians 52-46 in overtime.
“We became tentative in the second half,” said Wauseon coach Ashley Oyer on the loss. “I think if we would have pushed the ball up the floor a little bit more, then I think that they wouldn’t have been able to get set up exactly how they wanted to in their zone. And then we would have been able to find gaps a little bit easier. But we settled for just kind of slowly bringing it up the floor. And we need to continue to push that tempo, because I thought we did a much better job in the first half of doing that.”
Wauseon went up 20-10 at the 5:59 mark of the second quarter on Brianna Castellano’s fastbreak bucket. Then after Sami Tilley split a pair of free throws and Morgan Leppelmeier hit a pull-up jumper for Pettisville, Kendra Gorczyca’s basket for the Indians gave them a nine-point edge at the half.
Following three straight points from Morgan Leppelmeier to begin the third, Wauseon’s Karli Penrod got them on the board with a jumper, another deuce from Morgan Leppelmeier, and 1 of 2 free throws each from Wauseon’s Alexis Suarez and Pettisville’s Lynnsey Crouch made it 25-19 at the 3:02 mark.
Suarez then tacked on a triple, plus a putback basket from Aliza Dauterman put Wauseon up 30-19 with under two minutes left in the third. However, the Blackbirds responded with a 14-0 run to take the lead.
First it was Morgan Leppelmeier who converted on three straight trips to bring them within five near the end of the third. But then her sister, point guard Alexa Leppelmeier, also got into the action with 1 of 2 from the free throw line and a jump shot.
Then, after two more free throws from Morgan Leppelmeier early in the fourth, Alexa Leppelmeier’s three-point play made it 33-30 in favor of Pettisville with 6:32 remaining in regulation.
“The leadership kind of steps up (in that situation),” said Pettisville coach Jason Waldvogel of the Leppelmeier sisters. “And we know they were trying to take both of them away, but they’re not gonna have any of that. The other girls were ready to go and they had some key plays too. We usually have five girls on the floor that can score all the time. So that’s kind of nice to have.”
Dauterman answered Alexa Leppelmeier’s three-point play with one of her own to tie it back up, and both the birds and Indians continued to trade baskets from there.
Wauseon reclaimed the lead with 1:26 to go as Castellano drilled a corner jumper to make it 43-41. Morgan Leppelmeier then split a pair from the line to get the Birds within one, and Alexa Leppelmeier’s layup put them ahead with 40 seconds remaining.
They extended their lead to 46-43 on Alexa Leppelmeier’s two free throws after a steal with only 17 seconds left. However, Wauseon’s Rylee Campbell managed to get free on the ensuing possession and with seven seconds left, she nailed a three off the glass to knot it up and send it into overtime.
But, the Indians would go cold in the extra session and Pettisville, with five points from Alexa Leppelmeier and another from Tilley, outscored them 6-0 for the 52-46 victory.
“She’s been in a little bit of a slump. So I think that was good for her,” said Oyer on the shot from Campbell. “But then we also have to do a better job of once that happened, we’ve got to be able to rally it back in and work on finishing. I think we did a lot of standing in the fourth quarter. Especially in overtime.”
Waldvogel felt his team’s defense played a key part in the second half run and overtime.
“Defensively we picked it up. And then defense turned into offense,” he said. “The girls started having fun playing defense. And the enthusiasm got up. It got them scrambling a little bit.”
Morgan Leppelmeier had 24 points while Alexa Leppelmeier notched 15 for Pettisville. Castellano paced Wauseon with 13.
Pettisville (9-2) is off until next Tuesday when they are at North Central. Wauseon (0-9) is at Patrick Henry to begin NWOAL play Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010