PERRYSBURG — Toledo Whitmer girls basketball held Perrysburg to one fourth quarter field goal as the Panthers won both teams’ Northern Lakes League Buckeye Division opener Tuesday, 37-34.
Whitmer remains unbeaten at 4-0 while the Yellow Jackets drop to 2-2.
Perrysburg junior guard Chloe Kilbride hit a 22-foot three-point shot with 56 seconds remaining to provide the Jackets’ only points of the final stanza that brought the Yellow Jackets to within one, 35-34.
Whitmer junior guard Bralynne Dunn and sophomore guard Madison Finch each hit a free throw while the Panthers’ defense staved any other opportunity for the Jackets’ offense to get another good look in the final minute.
Whitmer’s 6-foot-1 senior center Mackenzie Royal-Davis put up a double-double 14 points, 12 rebounds, plus she led her team in steals with four.
Royal-Davis was so good in the post, she scored even when double-teamed, and on more than one occasion, took a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast to score a layup.
When Whitmer senior guard Sydney Borer left the game 27 seconds into the second quarter because of an injury, Whitmer coach Leon Kynard revised his strategy by letting Royal-Davis run the offense from the post.
“We knew when we lost our senior point guard, we knew that if we got the ball inside to Mackenzie, she wouldn’t have to deliver for us, but the other players out on the perimeter could step up and be solid,” Kynard said.
The strategy continued into the fourth quarter until Whitmer seemed to have perfected it. Even though Whitmer had five fourth quarter turnovers, during one stretch they held the ball a minute-and-a-half to get the shot they wanted.
“We told them, ‘They want to come at us. If you turn the ball over in the open court, they are going to get shots in transition,’” Kynard said.
“‘So, we have to slow the game down. We want nothing but post play and kick-outs. That’s the only shot we want to take,’” Kynard continued.
“Mackenzie, you’re going to get to double-team, so just come out and get the ball to the shooters.’ The only shots I wanted was kick-out threes and lay-ups.”
Perrysburg junior guard Hayley Griggs led her team with 12 points and a game-high seven steals as the Jackets forced 22 turnovers while committing just 13, but it was not enough.
For a fleeting moment in the second quarter, it looked like Perrysburg could pull away. Griggs scored in the paint and Kilbride hit a triple to put the Jackets up by five, 17-12, with over four minutes remaining until halftime.
However, neither team hit a field goal during the final four minutes of the half as both teams went into the locker room with Perrysburg still leading, 17-14.
“The biggest part of the game was when we were up 17-12 and we had the ball seven or eight times and it was still 17-12,” Perrysburg coach Todd Sims said. “We didn’t score, we didn’t stretch the lead out at all when we had the chance to.”
The Yellow Jackets made 6-of-20 (30%) three-point shots, but were just 5-for-25 (20%) inside the arc as they had a difficulty finding their way against the taller Panthers, which listed three players above six-feet tall.
“Our youth showed tonight. We got pushed around,” Sims said. “Our strength is shooting three’s and attacking the basket and when you are not shooting well that is what you get.”
Whitmer outrebounded Perrysburg 38-24, shot 35% (12-for-34) from the field and had 13 more free throw attempts, making 11-of-21 (52%), while Perrysburg made 6-of-8 (75%) from the line.
“We didn’t do a very good job of rebounding so we were not getting many second shots and we didn’t get to the line very well,” Sims said. “Defensively I thought we played very well at times.”
For Perrysburg, Kilbride connected on three triples, accounting for her nine points, and sophomore forward Sophie Mitchell had eight points and four rebounds.
Perrysburg sophomore guard Addie Byrne had three points and two steals and sophomore forward Hayden Siebenaler had two points and four boards.
Finch had seven points and six rebounds, senior forward Jada Shoup scored six points, and Dunn had three points and three steals for the Panthers.
Whitmer senior guard Madison Welch contributed three points, junior forward Nicole Kynard had two points, four rebounds, and two steals, and Borer scored two points.