Perrysburg’s Bryant Byrd, left, and Start’s Dion Ivery scramble for a loose ball on Saturday night in Perrysburg. Start used a decisive 13-1 run in the fourth quarter to win on the road.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Start's primary focus when facing Perrysburg in a nonleague encounter was to play soundly on defense Saturday night.
The Spartans were concerned about the Yellow Jackets' ability to hit open shots. They didn't want the contest to turn into a game of H-O-R-S-E.
So, the Spartans bought into the idea of challenging shots put up from close range, or from 3-point territory. The defensive approach paid off for Start in a 54-47 victory on the Yellow Jackets' home court.
"We wanted to come out and take away the three because they have really good shooters," said Start's Scottie Hicks, who blocked a couple shots and altered a few others while grabbing a half-dozen boards.
Hicks, as well as teammate Dexter Johnson, pumped in a team-high 14 points in a game where Start took control during the fourth quarter with a 13-1 spurt. Dion Ivery added 10 points for the Spartans (3-1).
"We played good defense," Start coach Gil Guerrero said. "We helped each other and we talked on defense. We communicated. We also played tough on the boards."
Bryant Byrd led the Yellow Jackets (3-1) with a game-high 15 points, and Nick Moschetti added 14 points.
However, Perrysburg's top scoring threat, Shane Edwards, was held to seven points.
Edwards, a 6-foot-3 senior, was coming off a career-best 33-point effort in a win over Northern Lakes League rival Napoleon on Thursday night, but he didn't score until after halftime.
"I thought Start played well," Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said. "They played with a lot of poise."
Start held a lead for most of the second half, save for two ties, at 27-all and 33-all. The Yellow Jackets never led after halftime.
"I thought we hung in there," Boyce said. "We kept playing and we had some nice runs, but we didn't get the big stops."
The Spartans' 13-1 spurt during the final quarter allowed them to pull away. They went up by 12 points when Mike Mitchell scored his second straight basket off of an inside feed from Richie Lynn to make it 46-34 with less than four minutes to play. Six Start players scored in the final quarter.
"Everybody got a few touches and we got hot and we knocked down some free throws today," Hicks said.
The Spartans went into halftime with a 23-16 lead after Hicks swished a 3-pointer from the baseline as time expired to end the second quarter.
Perrysburg's shooting struggles started in the first half against Start's zone defense and the Spartans' willingness to contest shot attempts near the basket. Yet, some of the misses were wide-open looks that were simply off the mark.
"We didn't score inside at all," Boyce said. "When we couldn't score inside it allowed them to play the perimeter a lot stronger."
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade