PERRYSBURG — Perrysburg rebounded from last Friday’s 76-66 double overtime loss to Anthony Wayne, routing visiting Springfield, 74-49, Tuesday.
This was the same Springfield team that came back from a 12-point fourth quarter deficit, and senior guard Jordan Combs hit two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining to give the host Blue Devils a 57-56 victory over Perrysburg on January 6.
Tuesday’s Perrysburg win makes the Northern Lakes League race a little clearer, but there is still mud in the water.
Perrysburg, 14-5 overall and 9-2 in the NLL, is tied with AW (11-8, 9-2), Springfield (13-6, 8-3) is one game back and Sylvania Northview (14-5, 7-4) is two back after losing to Bowling Green, 63-60, Tuesday. All four teams have three games remaining.
In Tuesday’s win over the Blue Devils, you could tell right away from Perrysburg’s demeanor on the floor that this was going to be different than the losses to AW and Springfield.
“I think we were ready to play tonight,” Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said. “I think the big thing tonight was that we kept our poise and on the 50-50 balls, I think we won them, and we converted on them. “
Perrysburg junior guard Austin Shultz scored 21 and senior guard Matt Watkins had 20 points and two steals to lead the Yellow Jackets.
The Jackets shot 58% (30-for-52) from the floor, including 64% (18-for-28) in the second half.
Springfield, down 31-14 at the half, hit their first four shots of the second half, but Perrysburg was answering just as quickly as the two teams combined for 42 third quarter points.
“They just executed really well,” Springfield coach Kyle Linehan said. “They made a lot of shots in the second half. Austin Shultz was hotter than heck in the second half.
“We scored in the third quarter effectively. We just couldn’t get any stops. When they are executing at that level and making shots at that level, they are a tough team to beat. They are very efficient, and we just did not get enough stops in the second half.”
Shultz was not only scoring from the arc, but he found his midrange jumper. He hit three straight 15-foot jumpers during a three-minute span in the third quarter.
“I think it’s really important for me because it opens up my shot from three,” Shultz said. “They have to respect that I have a midrange and it just makes the game easier for me.”
Shultz said his teammates stayed focus instead of getting rattled, like when they made 3-of-12 free throws down the stretch during the loss at Springfield.
“I think the difference was we settled in,” Shultz said. “Last time in the fourth quarter we got ahead of ourselves and made some dumb plays. Today, we were knocking down shots and getting those done.”
Shultz also knocked down five triples Tuesday. Meanwhile, Watkins scored by mostly slashing to the basket or off the steal and breakaway, but he hit a triple, too. Backdoor cuts and scissor plays off the post were working for the Jackets, too.
Watkins agrees with Boyce that this game meant too much to let it slip away.
“We just wanted it more,” Watkins said. “The last game, Anthony Wayne, they just came out and they wanted it more than we did that day. We knew coming out here that we had to want it more.
“We didn’t play one quarter or two quarters, we played a full game of good basketball and that got us a good win over a really tough team that beat us the first time this year.”
That also meant staying competitive with the Blue Devils off the glass, owning a narrow 26-25 advantage, but that is saying a lot against Springfield. In addition, the Yellow Jackets had just nine turnovers against a full court pressure defense, while forcing 15.
“We had to hustle and play really hard and get a lot of rebounds,” Watkins said. “We got outrebounded bad against Anthony Wayne. So, I thought we rebounded better today, still had a few too many turnovers, but overall, we played a full game.”
Boyce added, “They (Springfield) got some rebounds, but it’s a real good rebounding team. They are good, they don’t quit coming after you.
“They keep bringing guys off the bench who can score, who can shoot, who can defend, who can rebound, so I think everybody who came in for us contributed as well.”
Springfield was led by senior guard Will Mays’ 21 points, including 12 points in the third quarter.
The Blue Devils were 17-for-44 (39%) from the floor and 9-for-12 from the charity stripe, while Perrysburg converted on 8-of-10 free throws.
Perrysburg senior Andrew Hunt had 11 points and four rebounds, junior Matt Hubbard had six points and five rebounds, and senior Avery Hunt had four points and a team-leading seven rebounds.
Juniors Gavin Fenneken and Joe Dynda scored four points apiece and seniors Matt McEwen and Carter Petteys scored two points each for the Jackets.
Senior guard Robert Franklin Jr. scored nine, senior Eddie Merrell III had six points and five rebounds, and senior Dominick Bracey had five points and five rebounds for the Blue Devils.
Senior Jordan Combs had four points and two steals and sophomore Nate Pope and senior Tanner Whitmire added two points each to round out Springfield’s scoring.