Perrysburg basketball coach Dave Boyce anticipated a struggle with Springfield last night when the two teams met for the second time this season.
His instincts proved correct.
Springfield pushed Perrysburg to the limit before Andrew Wood hit some free throws in the waning seconds to secure a 51-47 victory that allows the Yellow Jackets to remain undefeated in the Northern Lakes League.
However, the game concluded under a cloud of controversy.
Moments after Springfield's Brad Zarembski scored inside with 10 seconds remaining to pull the Blue Devils within a point at 48-47, Springfield was called for an intentional foul when Wood received a pass on an inbounds play and was shoved by a Blue Devils defender.
The call, which generated boos from the Springfield crowd, led to Wood receiving two foul shots and allowed Perrysburg to remain in possession of the basketball.
Wood, who finished with 10 points, made the two free throws to give Perrysburg a 50-47 lead with five seconds remaining.
The Blue Devils, desperately in need of forcing Perrysburg into a turnover, actually came up with a steal near midcourt.
Fletcher Noble, who poured in a game-high 18 points for the Blue Devils, recorded the steal only to end up calling a timeout even though Springfield was out of timeouts.
Springfield was hit with a technical and Wood went back to the foul line and made 1 of 2 free throws to insure the road victory for the Yellow Jackets (13-3, 11-0).
"Honestly, I was sort of shielded on the play," Boyce said, remarking about the intentional foul called against Springfield.
The call was made right in front of the Blue Devils' bench and Springfield coach Tim Reiser was bothered by the call.
"I just don't know how you can make a call like that at the end of a game," Reiser said. "I thought our guys did a tremendous job of getting in good position to win the game.
"It shouldn't have come down to that call."
Perrysburg had to overcome a slow start.
The Yellow Jackets trailed the Blue Devils by as many as six points in the opening quarter before they eventually capitalized on eight first-half turnovers by Springfield and ended up taking a 19-16 lead into halftime.
Scott Perkins paced Perrysburg with team-highs of 17 points and eight rebounds. Lavon Christian chipped in with 12 points, including eight after halftime.
Perkins wasn't quite sure of what to make of how the game concluded. However, the Yellow Jackets senior is pleased to come out on the winning side.
"This just shows it's not really over until it's over," Perkins said. "I know they were trying to draw a foul and send [Wood] to the line.
"We would have done the same thing. The referee called what he called."
Springfield, which also received 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds from Zarembski, trailed by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter before rallying and playing its way into position to put a scare into Perrysburg.
"This is the second time around in league play, and everyone of these games are going to be tough," Boyce said.
"We hung in there and made a couple of shots. We pretty much played with the lead in the second half. To their credit, they never quit."
Reiser credited Perkins for picking up Perrysburg whenever the Yellow Jackets needed a big play throughout the contest.
"He's their key guy and they went to him," Reiser said. "But I told them [Blue Devils] I was very proud of how they executed our game plan."
The Blue Devils entered the game playing some of their best basketball of the season. They were coming off an impressive 57-49 win over Maumee that pulled them into a tie for third place with the Panthers in the league race.
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