Yellow Jackets hold off stingy Napoleon team, 73-56

By Jeffery R. Ratliff AIM Media Midwest

NAPOLEON — Napoleon started Tuesday’s game with invading Perrysburg like a continuation of its game against Archbold Saturday when they scored 71 points.

Then came a long dry spell.

The Wildcats tallied 20 points in the opening period and led by seven after eight minutes. Caden Kruse’s basket with 5:45 remaining in the second period gave Napoleon a 24-18 lead.

The ‘Cats did not make a field goal for the next 8½ minutes, as the Yellow Jackets went on a 19-1 run and coasted to a 73-56 Northern Lakes League win in the Grand Canyon.

“I think they got into some foul trouble (in the second quarter) and the Kruse kid got a little tired,” said Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce. “We came off the bench and got some good production. We were able to take advantage of those two things.”

Perrysburg needed the win to keep pace with Anthony Wayne heading into the final night of Northern Lakes League play this Friday.

Perrysburg is 16-5 overall and 11-2 in league play, while AW improved to 12-8 and 11-2 with a 74-56 pasting of Sylvania Southview (9-12, 4-9) Tuesday.

AW hosts Bowling Green (10-11, 7-6) Friday while Perrysburg hosts Southview. If both teams win Friday, they share the NLL crown, but if the Bobcats can do the Yellow Jackets a favor by beating AW, Perrysburg could take home an outright crown.

It goes the other way, too, if AW wins and Perrysburg falters Friday, but first the Jackets had to get past a stingy Napoleon team that got off a good start Tuesday.

Napoleon was 5-of-8 from the field and 8-of-9 from the foul line in the opening period, but made just two of eight shots from the field in the second period and took just two foul shots. The Cats also turned the ball over in the second period and fell behind 31-25 at intermission.

“I feel like the toughness we showed in the first quarter kind of left (in the second quarter),” said Napoleon coach Chad Bostelman. “They were the more physical team and they got to all the 50-50 balls. We had to be tougher in the second period.”

Kruse scored seven-straight points at the end of the opening period, including a 3-pointer, to push the Wildcats to an 18-10 lead with a minute left on the clock. Austin Schultz drilled a triple for Perrysburg, but Andrew Williams sank two foul shots to close the first quarter with Napoleon leading 20-13.

After Kruse’s bucket made it 24-18, Perrysburg scored five consecutive points before Williams made one of two free throws for the Cats. Matt Watkins followed with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Jackets the lead for good.

Andrew Hunt ended the first half and began the third quarter with baskets. Avery Hunt, off an assist from Watkins, and Schultz then capped Perrysburg’s 19-1 run.

Kruse made a triple for Napoleon’s first basket in 8½ minutes, but Perrysburg remained hot from the field and ended the third period leading 51-40.

The Yellow Jackets scored 38 points in the middle two periods.

“I felt like we were taking quick shots in the first quarter,” said Boyce. “Quick and bad shots. Our defense got us some easy shots, but in the first quarter we were not finishing the fast break at all.”

Napoleon cut the lead to eight points twice in the fourth period, the first after a triple by Blake Wolf with 5:13 remaining and the last following two free throws by Kruse with 1:19 left on the clock.

“They are a tough team to try different things against because they are so experienced,” said Bostelman. “We had to try some different things, but we couldn’t stop them. They were just too good.”

Perrysburg finished the game 26 of 51 (51%) from the field and 13 of 16 (81%) from the charity stripe. The Jackets also won the rebounding battle, 29-24, with Matt McEwan leading the way with 10 boards.

Watkins paced Perrysburg with 17 points, while Schultz added 15. Avery Hurst added 9 points, while McEwan and Andrew Hurst each tallied 8.

“This was huge,” said Boyce. “This is one team you don’t want to face at the end of the season, especially here. This is a win we’ll take.”

Napoleon (9-12, 3-10 in the NLL) was led by Kruse with 28 points, including four 3-pointers. Caleb Stoner added 8 points and five rebounds, while Kellen Ressler finished with 6 points and six rebounds.

The Wildcats were 20 of 41 from the field for 49% and 14 of 20 from the foul line for 70%. Napoleon had 17 turnovers.

“They just wear you out,” said Bostelman. “They play extremely hard and are well-coached.”