Calling the Northern Lakes League opener last night between co-defending league champions Bowling Green and Perrysburg a must-win matchup is perhaps overstating the significance of the first league game.
However, there was plenty relevant about the way Perrysburg came out and posted a decisive 73-53 boys basketball victory on its home court.
The Yellow Jackets, who a week earlier opened the season with a loss at home to St. John s, didn t waste any time jumping on top of the visiting Bobcats. They opened the game with a 7-0 run and led the entire way.
Perrysburg s Tyler Winkleman and Michael Dhondt combined for 38 points to showcase the kind of inside-outside scoring combination that could lead the Yellow Jackets (1-1, 1-0) right back to the top of the NLL.
Winkleman, a 6-7 junior, finished with a career-high 21 points to go along with five rebounds. Dhondt pumped in 17 points, including 13 in the opening quarter to spark Perrysburg to a 21-13 advantage.
Joe Caig added 12 points and five rebounds while Ryan Konz came through with nine points for the Yellow Jackets.
“We just wanted to come out and play with them and show we re a team to be reckoned with,” said Winkleman, whose inside presence on offense created defensive problems for a Bobcats team that doesn t have a regular standing taller than 6-3.
The Yellow Jackets built a commanding 42-25 halftime advantage. Winkleman accounted for nine points in the second quarter as Perrysburg outscored Bowling Green 21-12.
The Bobcats (1-1, 0-1) didn t get any closer than nine points the rest of the way. Perrysburg s lead was as many as 21 in the second half.
“I thought we executed our offense really well,” Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said. “Joe Caig stepped up and played well tonight. Tyler Winkleman has been playing solid for us. I like the way he was playing.”
Bowling Green s Andrew Vroman produced a team-high 14 points to go along with a team-best seven rebounds. Ryan Hoehner added 12 points and four boards in a game.
The Bobcats struggled shooting the basketball, as well as taking care of it. Michael Graffin, considered one of the Bobcats best shooters, finished with three points. A 3-pointer in the second quarter summed up his scoring night.
“That s the whole story of the game for us,” Bowling Green coach Von Graffin said. “After we didn t hit some shots we came up flat defensively.”
After Dhondt opened the game by hitting his first four shots, including two 3-pointers, the Yellow Jackets No. 1 scoring option didn t sink another field goal. A 4-for-8 showing from the foul line summed up Dhondt s offensive output from the second quarter on as the Bobcats decided to keep a defender around him at all times. The pressure on Dhondt perhaps took its toll when the Perrysburg playmaker was hit with a technical foul midway through the fourth quarter when he apparently complained a little too much after he thought he was fouled while attempting a shot.
“It s a long, long season,” Graffin said. “We certainly have some deficiencies.”