The Pettisville boys basketball team traveled to hostile territory, Thursday, Dec. 14, for a Buckeye Border Conference contest at Stryker.
Stryker sported a 2-0 BBC record, 3-0 overall. The Blackbirds were looking for their fifth straight win and fourth in the BBC without a loss.
The Panthers led only once but kept the game close with their long-range shooting, as the Birds escaped with a 53-51 victory and sole possession of first place in the BBC.
“We knew their ability with their guard play,” said Brian Leppelmeier. “Every one of those guys can shoot the three, and it was evident in the game.”
Stryker hit nine threepointers in the contest.
“It was gonna be a tough matchup for us, but on the other end it’s a tough matchup for them on us, and we were able to take advantage of getting the ball inside in the second half,” said Leppelmeier.
The Blackbirds got off to a quick start with a pair of layups from Sam Rychener and Canidate Vickery for a 4-0 lead, but then went cold for the remainder of the period.
Stryker couldn’t capitalize, scoring only three points to trail 4-3 after the first.
A Daniel Fether three gave the Panthers their only lead of the game at 6-4.
Logan Rufenacht answered with a three.
A Stryker free throw tied the game at 7, but Graeme Jacoby scored the next three points for PHS.
Logan Boetz drained a three to tie the game at 10, but Pettisville went on a 12- 1 run for a 22-11 lead with 1:52 left in the second.
Tristan Sampson, Boetz and Luke Holsopple hit three straight treys to pull the Panthers within two, but Logan Roth scored on a layup as the buzzer sounded to send Pettisville to the locker room up 24-20.
Jacoby scored eight of Pettisville’s nine points in the third, but Stryker also scored nine points to stay within striking distance, 33-29, going into the final eight minutes.
Pettisville got the lead up to 10 points, 43-33, after a Dillon King layup with 4:52 left, but Stryker cut the difference to four, 45-41, after a Chase Glock jumper with 1:43 left.
Stryker then put PHS on the foul line, where they went 3-6 to lead 48-41.
Boetz came down and drained another three. The Panthers immediately fouled Canidate Vickery, who made one free throw to lead by five.
After scoring on a layup, Stryker fouled Detric Yoder, who hit both free throws for a 51-46 lead with 14 seconds remaining.
Boetz came down and hit his fifth three of the night with seven seconds on the clock to pull within two, 51- 49.
On the inbounds play, Justin Rupp was fouled. The senior guard made a pair of clutch free throws with six seconds left for a 53-49 advantage.
Stryker tried another three but missed. Fether was there to rebound and score a layup at the buzzer for the 53-51 final.
“Was it our best game that we’ve played all year long? No,” said Leppelmeier, “but it was good enough to get the ‘W.’
“We can get better. There’s areas that we can improve upon.”
The Birds shot 14-36 from the field for 36% and went to the foul line 36 times, converting on 22.
Stryker was 19-44 from the field for 43% with nine threes, but was 4-9 from the free throw line.
Pettisville won the rebounding battle 25-15.
PETTISVILLE (53) – Rufenacht
6, Yoder 11, Rupp 4, Roth 2, Vickery
9, King 3, Rychener 2, Jacoby 16.
STRYKER (51) – Boetz 17,
Grapengeter 1, Fether 5, Sampson
3, Glock 10, Holsopple 8, Ferguson
7. Totals 19-4-51.
PHS 4 20 9 20 – 53
SHS 3 17 9 22 – 51
JV: Pettisville won 34-21
Freshmen: Stryker won 29-18.
Pettisville (2-2, 2-2 BBC) def. Hilltop
39-11, Saturday, Dec. 16.