PERRYSBURG — Toledo Central Catholic was a little better down the stretch in handing Perrysburg their fourth loss of the season, 63-59, Saturday.
All four of Perrysburg’s losses have been by single digits as they fell to 10-4 while Central improves to 10-2.
Both teams are in contention in their league — Perrysburg is tied for first in the Northern Lakes League at 5-1 and Central is 5-1 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
As a result, Central coach Mike Floyd described the game as a grudge match for pride going to the winner, but he feels the contest is good for both teams.
“I think it’s a great game,” Floyd said. “The result doesn’t really mean anything. You didn’t lose or win anything. It’s good for them, it’s good for us and it’s a good battle and a great test moving forward.”
As a result, neither team was able to force their opponents to back down as the lead changed hands eight times.
In the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Perrysburg senior Avery Hunt scored on a steal and a layup to put the Yellow Jackets ahead, 45-44.
Central junior guard Isaiah Brenneman responded by driving to the basket and scoring seconds later, putting the Fighting Irish back up, 46-45, and Central would never trail again.
Hunt had another steal and layup with 1:35 remaining to make it a one-possession game at 57-54, and junior Gavin Fenneken scored on a bunny with 23 seconds left to close the gap to two, 61-59, but Perrysburg could never recapture the lead.
Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said the loss was not about attrition, it was about making a few shots here or there that could have made the difference.
“I think our guys are conditioned,” Boyce said. “I thought we missed a couple shots we needed to make and they made a couple tough shots.
“I think their team played hard on defense and neither team gave up. I guess we were one more possession behind at the end than where we wanted to be.”
The Irish rotated up to 11 players and eight got into the scoring column. Sophomore guard Makhi Leach had 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals, Brenneman scored 16, and senior guard Michael Greenlee Jr. had 14 points and six rebounds.
“They’ve got every guy out there who can score — that is the biggest thing,” Boyce said. “They play hard on defense, they are athletic, but when every guy can score it makes it tough.”
The Irish shot 49% (20-for-41) from the floor, made 18-of-21 (86%) free throws, and held a narrow 28-27 advantage off the glass.
Central opened a 19-8 first quarter lead, but the Yellow Jackets fought back, forcing five second quarter turnovers and going on a 19-4 run to take a 27-23 halftime lead.
The third quarter saw three lead changes but most of the quarter, neither team trailed by more than a possession. Floyd admitted the Yellow Jackets were hard to prepare for.
“It was a quick turnaround because we had a league game last night,” Floyd said. “It’s a hard prep. They run such good options and they have so many sets that we were trying not to worry about that.
“We were just trying to pressure them and disrupt them from their flow that they wanted to get into. I thought we did a good job of that except for the second quarter.”
Perrysburg shot 42% (21-for-50) from the field, made 13-of-19 (68%) free throws and had just seven turnovers to Central’s 12.
Fenneken led Perrysburg with 17 points, four rebounds and three steals, senior guard Matt Watkins scored 16, and Avery Hunt had 10 points and two steals.
Junior Austin Shultz scored eight points, senior Matt McEwen scored four, junior Matt Hubbard had two points and five rebounds, and senior Andrew Hunt added two points.
For Central, senior guard Ty’waun Clark had eight points and four rebounds, senior guard Noah Langford scored three points, and seniors guard Kechan Johnson Jr. and Brian Bishop and junior guard Christian Jackson added two points apiece.