PERRYSBURG — It may no longer count in the league standings, but when the Perrysburg and Springfield girls basketball teams met Tuesday, both teams played like a league title was on the line.
An up-and-down the floor game saw the Yellow Jackets prevail, 67-42, but through three quarters the Blue Devils were never out of striking distance.
“It’s always fun playing them,” said Perrysburg junior guard Hayley Griggs. “They have a ton of pressure on the defensive side, so you have to slow it down on offense and play your game. You just can’t let them speed you up.”
Perrysburg coach Todd Sims says his team might as well face it — there is not going to be any cakewalks this season.
“We’re going to get teams’ best shots,” Sims said. “I guess that is a compliment because they are not just going to go through the motions against us, and they hit some shots.”
Griggs led the Yellow Jackets with 17 points, including four three-point goals, and eight rebounds. Griggs, who verbally committed on social media to playing softball for Florida State University, says the Perrysburg basketball team is starting to find itself.
“We have some experience — girls who have been here since their freshman year — a couple girls and me, but these sophomores who are coming up, as they get experience during the season we are going to be tough to beat,” Griggs said.
Sims says even though he has several three-year varsity starters, its still a work in process.
“I’ve known these guys, seriously, since they were 7-years-old, coming to my camp for the most part — most of them,” Sims said.
“I know what they can do and what they can’t do, but it’s getting used to being at the varsity speed for the younger girls and stuff like that, and they are getting there. They’ll get there. I have no doubt in my mind.”
Perrysburg junior guard Chloe Kilbride scored 15 points, including three triples, and she had two steals, and sophomore guard Kallie Thames had 11 points, nine rebounds and two steals for the Jackets.
Springfield opened by scoring the game’s first four points, but the Jackets soon settled in with sophomore guard Addy Byrne hitting consecutive treys to end the quarter and give Perrysburg a 15-9 lead.
The Blue Devils kept the lead under single digits until their top scorer, senior point guard A’Leah Hodges got whistled for her third foul with 5:45 remaining until halftime and Springfield played without her for most of the remainder of the quarter.
Thames scored off a steal by Griggs late in the half to put Perrysburg up, 30-16, while Hodges returned to play offense for parts of the remaining two minutes. Springfield senior guard Kalaia Taylor hit a triple at the halftime buzzer to keep the Devils to within 11, 34-23.
Griggs hit a triple with 1:25 left in the third quarter to put the Jackets up by 14 but Hodges responded by driving to the basket on Springfield’s next possession, keeping the Blue Devils to within 12, 47-35, entering the fourth.
Perrysburg exploded for 20 fourth quarter points, twice getting the lead to 28 points, but the Jackets were never able to force a running clock (30-point margin).
The Jackets were focused on shutting down Hodges, but ultimately Perrysburg had more depth and wore Springfield out. In the second half, it was Perrysburg who was still applying full court pressure, not Springfield.
“We won by 25, so we stressed that you have to get someone on her but it’s a four-quarter game, so we have a little bit more depth than they have,” Sims said. “So we were just kind of wearing them out a little bit.”
Perrysburg got their first win of the season after a season opening loss to Bellevue. Tuesday, the Yellow Jackets shot 37% (23-for-62) from the field, but they got 18 more shots than the Blue Devils, who shot 30% (13-for-44).
The Jackets, after committing nine turnovers in the first half, had just two in the second half and finished with 11, while they forced Springfield into 20 turnovers, including 15 in the first half.
Perrysburg made 65% (11-for-17) of their free throws, Springfield shot 53% (10-for-19) from the line. The Yellow Jackets had a 43-34 advantage off the glass.
For the Jackets, junior guard Ayla Turk had seven points and five rebounds, sophomore forward Hayden Siebenaler had seven points and seven rebounds, Byrne scored six points, and sophomore forward Sophie Mitchell scored four points.
Hodges led all scorers with 23 points, including four from behind the arc, and she had three steals. She missed two major swaths of the game, including once where she appeared to be hurt, but after being treated for cramping was able to return a couple minutes later.
Springfield coach Clifton Hodges, who has built the program around his daughter since her freshman year, says A’Leah is getting looks from several college programs despite her 5-foot-3 size.
“It’s her choice, but I hope she keeps doing better and continues to get to go to the school she wants to,” coach Hodges said.
For the Blue Devils, Taylor scored nine points, sophomore guard Myaat Woodley scored four points and had six rebounds and junior center Tessa Troutman had two points and 11 rebounds.
Springfield junior forward Hannah Schlachter had two points and five boards and junior point guard Ty’Shaela Wright added two points.
Coach Hodges says his team has work to do if they want to compete for a Northern Lakes League Cardinal Division championship. Tuesday’s game was Springfield’s season opener.
“We still have a lot of unknown pieces so we still have to figure it out,” coach Hodges said. “It’s going to be a long process.
“I think we are about four or five games out, so we have to execute together and play together. This group is really new, they are young and kind of inexperienced. I’m just looking forward to us to just keep grinding and getting better.”