Perrysburg, the Northern Lakes League coaches’ preseason favorite to win the conference, got off to a good start, routing Bowling Green, 71-40, in the NLL opener Friday on the Bobcats’ floor.
The Bobcats started on the right track, taking an early 8-4 lead on a 12-foot jumper by junior guard Jake Amspoker.
However, the Yellow Jackets went on a 15-0 run that extended into the second quarter, and senior Matt Watkins scored midway through the second to put Perrysburg up 34-13.
BG second-year coach Matt Roth said he is still searching for answer on how his team could start so well, and then see the game turn sour.
“I’m still trying to figure that out as well. I mean, we executed early and then we missed shots, and we went straight to panic mode, and we panicked the rest of the night. We never recovered,” Roth said.
Early in the third quarter, the Yellow Jackets opened a 35-point lead, kicking in a running clock. From that point on as starters left the game, the only thing to be decided would be the final score.
“I think the guys were ready to play,” Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said. “I thought we defended well in the first half and really moved the ball well. We spread the floor well, we found different people, and were very unselfish.”
The Yellow Jackets shot a blazing 56% (27-for-48) from the floor by having a field day driving to the hoop and scoring in the paint. Perrysburg players were consistently beating BG defenders to the basket.
“Our guards have not been able to keep the ball in front of them lately, so that has been a big issue,” Roth said.
The Jackets also hit on seven three-point goals and were 9-for-11 (82%) from the free throw line. BG was 16-for-35 (46%) from the field and made just two of six free throws.
Junior guard Austin Shultz led Perrysburg with 19 points, including four three-point goals and he scored 11 points in the third quarter as the Yellow Jackets opened a 64-27 lead.
Senior Avery Hunt scored 14, Watkins scored 12, senior Andrew Hunt scored seven points, and senior Matt McEwen came off the bench to score four points and grab four rebounds.
Junior Gavin Fenneken had three points, four rebounds and four steals, and junior Joe Dynda, senior Carter Petteys and junior Zack Pamer added two points each.
Perrysburg junior Matt Hubbard did not score but had a team-high five rebounds as the Yellow Jackets controlled the glass by a 30-22 count, and the Jackets forced 15 turnovers while committing just eight.
“I think we have the ability to be a good rebounding team,” Boyce said. “We’ve got to focus on that every night.”
The Bobcats were without starting senior guard Brock Hastings, who was out of state on a field trip.
“We know they are missing one of their players today, but they were picked third in the league this year,” Watkins said.
“To win the first NLL game of the year, we knew we had to come out with a lot of energy. I thought we moved the ball well. We got off a lot of good shots and played exceptional the whole way through.”
Roth said Hastings’ absence was not an excuse for his team’s poor defense.
“That doesn’t excuse what happened on our effort on the defensive end. You miss a guy, but you cannot play like that,” Roth said.
Although Boyce liked what he saw, he noted that there is a lot of basketball remaining before the NLL race gets decided.
“It’s an away game in the league against a really good team,” Boyce said. “I think you’ve got to take them one at a time, and to win on the road against the better teams is something we want to check off and move on to the next game.”
Senior Evan Brandt led BG with nine points, senior Jabari Conway had eight points and seven rebounds, Amspoker finished with eight points, and junior Garrett Bateson had six points on two treys.
Junior Grant Sonner scored three points and junior Kyle Sickler, sophomore Jaceous Shannon, and junior Ahmir Ruffin added two points each for the Bobcats.
Perrysburg improves to 2-1 overall while BG is still searching for its first win after two games. Roth is also searching for some answers on how his team can turn things around before it gets too late.
“It’s inside of us,” Roth said. “A lot of right now is not necessarily basketball. It’s just we are not clicking right now.
“I don’t know what as a group is going on, but we are going to have to figure some stuff out. Hopefully our guys remember this loss. Hopefully, it sits in their stomach. We’ll see,” Roth continued.
“If we answer, we answer, if not, I guess we are going to have to make some adjustments. It doesn’t get any easier against Napoleon next Friday, so that will be a tough one as well.”