It isn’t easy to defeat a team three times in a season, but Stryker (24-2) won its third game against Pettisville during the 2018-19 season when it really counted– for the Division IV district girls basketball championship.
The Panthers made 16 of 21 free throws, including 14 of 19 in the fourth quarter, to defeat the Blackbirds 51-42, Saturday, March 2, at Archbold.
“These kids played for each other,” said Jason Waldvogel, PHS head coach. “They’ve done it the whole year, but they really came together at the end of the year.
“We probably over-exceeded a lot of expectations a lot of people had for us.
“It was kind of our game plan to take (our) time and when the feel was right, it was right.
“They played a great team basketball game tonight. We knew that’s what it was going to take to beat a good team like Stryker.
“The ‘Ws’ on the win-loss column were great, but these girls won on a lot of different levels, and I’ve seen them mature, and that’s gonna help them in life, even past the game of basketball.”
With the score tied at 12 with 1:39 left in the first period, Stryker scored the period’s final four points to take a 16-12 lead into the second.
After low-scoring second and third periods, the Panthers led 23-16 at the half and 29-23 after three.
Pettisville got within three, 30-27, with 5:59 left in the contest, but Courtney Stewart’s three-pointer put Stryker back up by six, 33- 27.
The Birds got no closer than five points after that as they had to start fouling.
Jessie McWatters hit a pair three-pointers to get the Birds within seven, 49-42, but Stryker went 12-13 at the foul line in the last two minutes– including 6-7 from Brittney Haines– to seal the victory.
“Jessie’s… done that for us all year long, and it’s been a confidence thing for her,” said Waldvogel. “She knew it was crunch time toward the end, too, and she stepped up and knocked them. She’ll be a big player for us next year.”
McWatters led PHS with 15 points, while Brandi Schnitkey scored 10.
Haines led all scorers, with 21 points. Stewart was also in double figures, with 15.
The team’s 17-8 record this year put Pettisville at .500 for the first time.
Since the program started, the Birds have compiled a re- cord of 443-443.
It was the last time in a PHS girls basketball uniform for seniors Morgan Leppelmeier, Elizabeth Beck, and Brandi Schnitkey.
“Those three girls have meant everything,” said Waldvogel.
“All three of them have had things to overcome this year. Brandi’s actually got a (knee) surgery lined up… she’s been injured for a whole year. She was waiting until basketball was over.
“Liz has changed roles two or three times during the year to help the team out. I know she was struggling with a couple other things, but she’s overcome those things.
“And a girl like Morgan has a lot of pressure put on her. A lot of people put pressure on her to perform at the high level that she did, and she’s done some amazing things for the program.”
PETTISVILLE (42) – McWatters
15, Leppelmeier 7, Beck 5, Schnitkey
10, Borden 5. Totals 14-8-42.
STRYKER (51) – Haines 21,
Cadwell 3, Stewart 15, Grime 8,
Blevins 4. Totals 14-16-51.