TOLEDO — Perrysburg and Springfield girls basketball split their two Northern Lakes League games this year, with Perrysburg winning 51-49 on a buzzer beater and Springfield winning, 34-33, in the first meeting.
So, both teams knew heading into the rubber match Thursday at Central Catholic High School’s Sullivan Center that anything could happen.
This time, the Blue Devils pulled off a 41-37 Division I district semifinal victory over the Yellow Jackets, ending Perrysburg’s season at 18-7, while Springfield advances to the district finals at 18-6.
Springfield coach Clifton Hodges said his players needed the win for their confidence.
“Perrysburg is good. My hats off to them. Of course, coach (Todd) Sims does a fantastic job,” Hodges said. “Their girls never quit.
“They are a very, very good team and we finally got one off our back. It just feels good to get a win,” Hodges continued.
“We’ve been struggling a little bit offensively and things haven’t been going our way. We just needed to have a couple things going our way.”
Springfield senior guard Kendall Carruthers led all scorers with 16 points, including three long range missiles in the first quarter that helped the Blue Devils open a 15-5 lead. Carruthers also had two steals.
Junior forward Gretchen Sigman had a double-double 15 points and 10 rebounds, hitting three straight 15-foot jumpers in the third quarter.
Sophomore Hayley Griggs led Perrysburg with 11 points, including two second half triples, and two steals. Junior center Wrigley Takats had 10 points and six rebounds for the Jackets.
The biggest issue was missed shots by Perrysburg, which went 14-for-40 (35%) from the field and made only four of nine free throws.
Sims was pleased with the way his team fought back from the 15-5 deficit, outscoring Springfield 17-3 for the remainder of the half to take a 22-18 halftime lead.
“I thought we sort of felt them out in the first quarter, which you can’t do in tournament games because everyone is good,” Sims said.
“So, once we were down 15-5, we were more aggressive, we made a couple shots, we started to get in a little rhythm, and had a really good second quarter. I think us going zone threw them off a little bit — it threw off their timing.
“The mid-third quarter on, it wasn’t that we played poorly or anything, but we’ve got to make shots. Basketball is a shot-makers’ game, right there.
“If we made some shots there at the end, but we did not. It’s not about the plays and the strategies and whatever, you have to make plays and you have to make shots and you have to rebound in tournament games because teams are too good to get multiple possessions.”
That included two missed free throws by senior forward Megan Gibbs with 10.1 seconds remaining that could have tied the game at 39-39.
It resulted when the Perrysburg defense forced a five-second call on an inbounds play, and on Perrysburg’s ensuing inbounds Gibbs was fouled in the paint, but failed to convert either shot with her team down two, 39-37.
Part of Springfield’s strategy throughout the fourth quarter was to go into a four-corners spread offense, or send everyone to the baseline and allow Carruthers to be isolated against her defender.
It appeared to work, limiting possessions with the Blue Devils holding a one-possession lead most of the final five minutes of the game.
There was another reason for the Blue Devils’ change in strategy.
“I try to do that just to give us a break,” Hodges said. “We play so hard on defense, so I try to stall a little bit.
“We only rotate five-and-a-half, maybe six (players) sometimes, so I try to give our kids a break standing there so we can go harder on defense.”
When Carruthers was left isolated, she did her job, driving and scoring with 1:30 remaining in the game to put the Blue Devils ahead, 34-33.
“Kendall is dynamic,” Hodges said. “It kind of gives her a blow for a second to sit back. Anytime we can get her in an iso-situation she can do that.”
Springfield did not shoot a lot better than Perrysburg, making 12-of-36 shots from the floor (33%), but they hit five three-point goals, including two by Carruthers and one by junior guard A’Leah Hodges that were from 22 feet and beyond — even 25 foot on one shot.
Hodges finished with seven points and four steals, sophomore forward Jade Battle had two points and four rebounds, and junior guard Kalaia Taylor added one point for Springfield.
The Blue Devils were 11-for-14 from the line, including 7-for-9 down the stretch, but Perrysburg had a slight 31-27 advantage off the glass. Perrysburg had 12 turnovers to Springfield’s 11.
Perrysburg sophomore guard Chloe Kilbride had four points, seven rebounds and two steals, Gibbs had three points and five rebounds and freshman guard Kallie Thames scored two points.