TOLEDO — Toledo St. John’s opened on a 12-2 run and never trailed, defeating Perrysburg, 47-42 in a Division I regional semifinal at the University of Toledo’s Savage Arena Thursday.
Perrysburg bows out at 20-6, while St. John’s (18-9) advances to the regional final to take on Garfield Heights (23-3) at Kent State University’s MAC Center Saturday.
The Titans shot 50% (19-for-38) from the field, including 50% (4-for-8) from the arc, and took care of the ball, committing just eight turnovers. Junior Jaylen Murphy had 10 points and two steals for St. John’s.
The loss to the Titans puts an end to Perrysburg’s seven-game win streak that led to sharing the Northern Lakes League title with Anthony Wayne. All three tournament wins were over Three Area Athletic Conference teams.
“It’s been a fantastic season — a district championship, a 20-win season and a league title are great accomplishments,” Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said.
“This team really pulled together early in February and continued that run down the stretch.”
St. John’s senior C.J. Hornbeak led all scorers with 21 points and four rebounds.
“He’s been doing that his whole career, but this final stretch he’s been unreal,” St. John’s coach Mike Schoen said.
“I’m just so proud of him. He’s a better kid than he is a player and I think that’s what makes him different from most.”
Hornbeak was also a beast on the defensive end guarding Perrysburg senior guard Matt Watkins, who was held to five points with two assists.
“He was great on him,” Schoen said. “He’s a great defender — he probably doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is defensively, and he carries such a heavy load for us offensively.
“For him to play like that on both ends of the floor, it is a special performance.”
During the Titans’ first quarter run, the Yellow Jackets missed two bunnies, including a steal and layup by Perrysburg senior Andrew Hunt that Hunt was unable to convert into points. In addition, despite a lot of physical play, neither team was whistled for a foul in the first quarter.
That doesn’t mean that the game was not close. Perrysburg went on a 12-0 run in the second quarter and closed the gap to one, 24-23, when Watkins banked in a three-point shot at the halftime buzzer.
In the first half, the two teams combined to go 6-for-7 from beyond the three-point arc with the Jackets knocking down all three attempts, and the Titans going 3-for-4. Those numbers dissipated in the second half with both teams locking down on the perimeter.
In the second half, Perrysburg tied the game twice, but the Yellow Jackets could never get the lead.
“The bottom line is even though we had some plays early on that uncharacteristically we didn’t make, it allowed them to get the lead,” Boyce said.
“Then, in the second half, we had a number of chances to take the lead and take control, and in those possessions, we just never made the big shot to get ahead. We needed to make another one, but they made more big plays when they needed to.”
While Perrysburg advanced to this game with an 80-42 blowout win over Lima Senior, the Titans had found themselves in tight games all season, and Schoen said they were prepared.
“We told them at halftime that we’ve been built for this all year. We have the lowest point per game differential of the teams left playing. We’re used to being in tight ones,” Schoen said.
“We executed on both ends and we defended on an extremely high level all night and we made shots when we needed to. It wasn’t always pretty but it was pretty darned good.”
Perrysburg did not get a single player into double figures, but were led by Andrew Hunt, who had nine points, six rebounds and four steals.
Senior Gavin Fenneken scored eight points, Andrew’s twin brother, senior Avery Hunt, had seven points, four rebounds and two assists, and junior guard Austin Shultz contributed seven points for the Jackets.
Senior Matt Hubbard had four points and two assists and senior Matt McEwen added two points to round out Perrysburg’s scoring.
The Jackets were 17-for-39 from the field (44%), including 3-for-5 from the arc and 5-for-8 from the free throw line (63%). Perrysburg matched St. John’s with just eight turnovers.
Titans held a narrow 24-23 edge in rebounding, 12-9 edge in second chance points, 10-5 advantage in fast break points but Perrysburg had an 11-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
St. John’s senior Mitchell Michalak had six points, six rebounds, and out of this world seven assists, senior Marquez Frazier had five points and three assists, and junior Joseph Taylor had five points and four rebounds.