SYLVANIA — Northview has four players standing 6-foot-7 or taller, but Perrysburg’s experience proved more valuable on Jerry Sigler Court Tuesday.
Perrysburg moved one step closer to clinching a Northern Lakes League title, taking down the Wildcats, 63-48.
All four of Northview’s big men are underclassmen, including 6-7 freshman starter Alan Horton. That’s why Northview eighth-year coach Jeremy McDonald said it was like pitting 14- and 15-year-old’s against 17- and 18-year-old’s.
“It’s a tough match-up for us,” McDonald said. “Their experience and their age make it tough for us. They kind of put their foot on the gas in the first half of both games and we played on our heels, and you just can’t do that against this team.”
In their first meeting at Perrysburg, the Yellow Jackets took a 40-9 halftime lead on their way to a 69-40 victory.
Since then, the Wildcats have been cruising and a win over Perrysburg Friday would have put the Wildcats in a first-place tie with the Jackets.
Instead, Northview falls to 13-4 overall and 6-3 in the NLL, Perrysburg maintains sole possession of first place at 13-4 and 8-1.
Perrysburg junior guard Austin Shultz scored on at least one three-pointer in each quarter, finishing with six triples and a game-high 20 points, plus the six-footer had five rebounds and two steals.
Senior guard Matt Watkins had 18 points and four rebounds by mostly slashing his way to the hoop. Shultz and Watkins have been Perrysburg’s top scorers all season, so nothing new there.
But guarding Alan Horton and his brother, 6-11 sophomore center Logan Horton, was the challenge. Alan finished with six points and six rebounds, but fouled out with 4:01 to play, and Logan scored eight points.
Nik Echelmeyer, a 6-8 junior wing, also got considerable playing time down the stretch, but no matter who was on the court, Perrysburg was prepared, defending by committee.
Perrysburg senior twin brothers Avery Hunt and Andrew Hunt, both 6-4, and 6-1 junior Matt Hubbard and 6-3 senior Matt McEwen, both standout football players, bore the bulk of that responsibility.
“The biggest thing we said is don’t try to block their shot. They’re too big,” Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said. “Stand your ground and try to make them take a hard shot over you and not get to the basket.
“We didn’t want to foul them because they both (Horton brothers) can shoot their free throws well, but Avery did a really good job on No. 4 (junior guard Drew Barnesky) and Andrew did a good job on 54 (Adam Horton), the big kid, then Hubbard and McEwen came in and did a really good job as well.”
Avery Hunt added, “It was mainly to keep them off their spot. We knew if we kept them out at about five to eight feet it’s way better for us than letting them get two feet and under. We were trying to keep them out of the paint.”
Offensively, Perrysburg shot well, connecting on 55% (22-for-40) from the floor, including 10 treys.
The Jackets were 9-for-15 from the free throw line, but committed four more turnovers (14-10) than the Wildcats.
Avery Hunt scored nine points, Andrew Hunt had five points and three steals, Hubbard had four points and four rebounds, McEwen scored four, and junior Gavin Fenneken scored three points, but led the team with eight rebounds.
Besides the mounting second half turnovers, it was an efficient offense that had Perrysburg leading 41-18 less than two minutes into the second half.
“Except for Austin, who can make every shot, we are really long and we’re quick and we play good perimeter defense,” Avery Hunt said.
“We get a lot of steals and we are in passing lanes a lot and we just work together as a team. We have real good chemistry. When we switch, or some things happen, it’s just muscle memory and things happen.”
Boyce added, “I think we played hard on defense in the first half. We followed our game plan and I think we moved the ball well on offense, and we made big plays that kept building the lead.”
The second half saw Northview’s defense force nine turnovers while the Wildcats had just four. The ‘Cats went from a first half zone to a second half man-to-man, and then mixed it up with full court pressing down the stretch, but it was not enough.
“I was real proud of our response again in the second half,” McDonald said. “We’re just not a team that’s built to play from behind by 20. We don’t get up in passing lanes like that.”
Barnesky was the only Northview player to reach double figures with 11 points and five rebounds, senior guard Alex Dupree scored nine, and junior wing Nick Campbell scored six points.
Junior point guard Jackson Clausius contributed four points and two steals and senior wing Anthony Rammuny and junior wing Vin Bentley added two points each for the Wildcats.
That was the first win during Perrysburg’s three-game stretch against the NLL’s upper division.
This Friday, the Jackets host Anthony Wayne (9-8, 7-2) and next Tuesday they host Springfield (12-5, 7-2), the only team to beat them in league play. Mixed in between is the Division I tournament draw on Sunday.
“They’re tough. I think they are the clear-cut best team in the area,” McDonald said. “I’m glad they are going to be on the board before us on Sunday (tournament draw) because we’re not going anywhere near them.”