MILLBURY — Senior guard Matt Watkins said his Perrysburg squad “had to knock down the wall” after Lima Senior defeated the Yellow Jackets the past two seasons in the Division I district finals.
The Yellow Jackets did not just knock down the wall, they demolished it, routing the Spartans, 80-42, at Lake High School’s Flyer Fieldhouse Friday.
“It feels amazing. I’ve lost to them the past two years,” Watkins said. “It’s been a horrible feeling.
“Like coach (Dave Boyce) said every day, ‘We’ve got to break through the wall.’ They’ve been our wall the past two years, and tonight we broke through the wall. It was a great team effort. The best game we’ve played all year,” Watkins continued.
Perrysburg shot 63% (32-of-51) from the floor, including 11 three-point goals, and committed just eight turnovers against the Spartans’ full court pressure defense. Boyce said making shots became contagious.
“Once we got to a certain period, I think it made it a little easier to shoot,” Boyce said. “But we hit some big ones when it mattered, there is no doubt about it.”
The Jackets got five players into double figures and nine into the scoring column, and even had a 32-24 advantage off the glass. Boyce credits that to toughness on the 50-50 balls.
“I think we won the loose balls,” Boyce said. “We stressed not only just rebounding, but holding onto the ball and bringing it into your chest because they are really good at knocking it out of your hands, even after you get it.”
Perrysburg junior guard Austin Shultz led all scorers with 21 points and Watkins had 15 points, four rebounds and two steals.
Junior Gavin Fenneken had 12 points and five rebounds, senior Avery Hunt had 12 points and four rebounds and junior Matt Hubbard scored 10 points.
Watkins had to play through contact the entire game. Despite getting hand-checked every time he touched the ball, the Jackets shot just eight free throws, making five. The Jackets didn’t care if they got the call or not, says Avery Hunt.
“It’s just a lot of mental toughness,” Hunt said. “Coaches are always yelling at us in practice, ‘We’re not going to get a call, so don’t expect a call.’ It’s just that whole year of them pushing us kind of got it out of us.”
For Watkins, scoring against a physical defender has been his trademark all season, but he had to up the intensity even more against Lima Senior.
“That’s one of their biggest strengths is their pressure defense,” Watkins said.
“So that’s what we did all week to prepare for them, a lot of dribbling, being able to handle that pressure, getting the ball up the floor and not being selfish, staying poised and doing what we do — running our plays and all that.
“I think everybody, me, (senior) Andrew (Hunt), all the guards did a great job of just staying poised and getting the ball up the court well.”
However, Avery Hunt says they Jackets needed Watkins to take the lead in the backcourt.
“We really tried to get it into Matt’s hands and he’s real sound at dribbling,” Hunt said. “We kind of cleared out it and let him go, and when he needed help, we helped, but he really stepped up and played really well tonight.”
Perrysburg (20-5) will advance to take on Toledo St. John’s (17-9) in a regional semifinal next Thursday at the University of Toledo’s Savage Arena, tipoff at 7 p.m.
The Titans held on to defeat Toledo Whitmer (16-9), 55-50, at Central Catholic’s Sullivan Center in Toledo Friday.
The Perrysburg-St. John’s winner will advance to take the regional finals next Saturday, Mar. 11 at Kent State University’s MAAC Center for the right to advance to the state final four. The last time Perrysburg reached the state tournament was 75 years ago in 1937.
Against Lima Senior, Perrysburg led by just 10, 29-19, at halftime, but the Yellow Jackets scored 51 second half points, even with a running clock for nearly the final four minutes of the game.
Andrew Hunt had two points, five rebounds and two steals, senior Matt McEwen and junior Zack Pamer scored three points apiece and senior Carter Petteys added two points for the Jackets.
Lima Senior shot 34% (16-for-47) from the field, 7-for-9 from the charity stripe, and matched Perrysburg with eight turnovers. It isn’t every day a team holds the Spartans to 42 points.
“We tried to slow them down,” Boyce said. “Our matchups in the second half slowed them down a little bit and I think that helped.”
Sophomore Isaiah Wilson came off the bench to lead the Spartans with 19 points, senior Brandon Moore scored 10 points and senior Anthony Mosley had four points, nine rebounds and two steals.
Freshman Amari Addy and seniors Amarion Glenn and Zion Jackson added two points each for Lima Senior. Coach Quincey Simpson took it upon himself for the 38-point loss.
“There wasn’t much we could do,” Simpson said. “I don’t think I coached the best game tonight. I think I coached extremely awful.
“But you have to give them credit, they made a lot of shots. I’ve got to imagine it was one of their best shooting nights of the season,” Simpson continued. “They’d probably beat the Golden State Warriors shooting like that.
“But, yeah, he had those guys ready to play, so make no mistake about it. They made their presence felt inside early. They were on every loose 50-50 ball, rebounded very well, and top to bottom, they were the better team tonight.
“I think this was probably a game they wanted. We’ve had their number for the last several years. I think his kids understood the assignment.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys who probably didn’t match the intensity, but you’ve got to tip your hat to them. They are really good and we got our butts kicked.”