With leading rebounder Caleb Rychener lost for the season with a knee injury, Brian Leppelmeier’s Pettisville Blackbirds now have to make hitting the glass a group effort.
That effort translated to a big first half lead at home Saturday against Evergreen, then the Blackbirds had to fend off a late Viking rally to take a 51-46 decision, moving them to 9-5 on the season.
“I think there was one team that got us (rebounding wise),” said Leppelmeier. “That was Edgerton by one, but other than that we’ve outrebounded everyone and the kids take great pride in that. They talk about it, not just me harping on them about that, they take great pride in hitting the glass.”
Pettisville used a pair of three-pointers from Detric Yoder and Justin Rupp along with 4 of 4 from the line after offensive rebounds, and a Dillon King basket inside during a 12-0 run to take a 12-3 early lead.
Evergreen battled back to trail 20-14 a minute into the second on a pair of back cut baskets by Josh Dowling and Teagen Pinkelman, when the Birds asserted themselves on the glass again.
Four consecutive possessions turned into eight more second chance points thanks to Landon Roth’s third chance stick back, Graeme Jacoby’s two free throws, another third time putback by Jacoby and another by Gabe Beck to blow the game open at 30-16 with 4:12 left in the half.
Phoenix VanOstrand’s triple with 1:42 left in the half got Evergreen within 35-24 at halftime, but again Beck scored off the offensive glass 14 seconds into the third quarter to put the Birds up 13.
That rebound gave Pettisville a 22-7 rebounding edge at that point of the game.
However, the Vikings bounced back, mostly in the person of Bryce Hudik, who swished consecutive three-balls to slice the Blackbird lead to 37-30.
That seven point lead held to begin the fourth quarter when Hudik hit yet another bomb and Austin Blanton scored on a rebound to pull the Vikes within a pair, 41-39.
Beck scored on an out-of-bounds play to double the lead with 5:49 left but freshman Nate Brighton laced a triple from the top of the key and then scored a transition bucket off a rebound to give Evergreen a 44-43 lead with 3:50 left.
Pettisville remained patient and found the same scoring option they had in the first half as Beck regained the lead for Pettisville 47 seconds later, getting loose inside and Yoder added to it with a driving bank shot at the 2:35 mark to make it 47-44.
“We’re getting better with our shot selection and knowing what a good shot is and what isn’t a good shot,” explained Leppelmeier. “Tonight I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
Mason Loeffler hit two from the line to draw Evergreen again within a point with 2:14 to go, but the Vikings went 0-for from the field the rest of the way while Yoder hit three of his next four to help put the game away.
Pettisville was led by Beck with 15 points and Yoder with 13, and shot 17 for 41 from the floor to go with 33 rebounds.
Evergreen got 15 from Hudik and 12 from Loeffler but shot just 17 for 50 from the floor and had only 23 rebounds.
The Viking loss was the second of the weekend as Liberty Center got a three-point play from Blake Graber with 18 seconds left Friday night to grab a 64-61 win.
Graber had 20 on the night while Chandler Lumbrezer had 21 and Loeffler 16 for Evergreen.
The Vikings (7-8, 0-2 NWOAL) are at Swanton in NWOAL action Friday and at Ottawa Hills on Saturday. Pettisville (9-5, 6-2 BBC) hosts Montpelier Friday before making a trip to Liberty Center on Saturday.
Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]