Anthony Wayne fired the first blow against Perrysburg when the two Northern Lakes League girls basketball frontrunners met last night in a league opener.
The Generals, who are considered the team to beat in the NLL, leaned on sophomore forward Allison Papenfuss and senior center Jordyn Sadowski to hold off the Yellow Jackets for a 62-59 victory at Perrysburg.
Perrysburg's Ashley Parrish had an opportunity to send the game into overtime when she attempted a 3-pointer in the closing seconds, but the shot hit the front of the rim and bounced away as time expired.
"The team made plays when we had to make plays," AW coach Justin Zemanski said. "It was a very hard-fought game."
No one played more of a role in the outcome than Papenfuss, the Generals' highly active frontcourt player. Her energy around the basket ultimately took its toll on the Yellow Jackets as she pumped in a team-high 20 points while grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds.
"I think Allison made play after play after play," Zemanski said. "She plays smart. She makes really wise decisions."
Sadowski added 11 points and six boards to give AW a leg up on the team expected to provide the most opposition to the Generals (1-1, 1-0) capturing the league championship.
"It's really important for us to start out strong," said Papenfuss, who scored 13 points in the first half to help the Generals take a 34-27 lead into halftime. "We just have to keep on working hard."
Perrysburg (1-1, 0-1) trailed by as many as a dozen points in the first half before rallying to tie the score at the end of the third quarter.
Nicole Parrish paced the Yellow Jackets with a game-high 25 points, but was limited to four boards. Ashley Parrish, the senior guard who spent much of the first half on the bench in foul trouble, came through by scoring all of her 14 points after halftime. Her play in the second half provided a spark for a Perrysburg team that struggled early on dealing with AW's fullcourt pressure.
The Yellow Jackets committed 14 of their 18 turnovers in the first half. But the Generals were also guilty of 18 turnovers for the game.
"I was really pleased with my team because AW is a very talented team," Perrysburg coach Mark Schrock said. "There were little things that happened in the game that cost us - giving up a basket here a basket there."
Even though the early matchup represented only 1 of 14 league games, AW didn't downplay its significance.
"It's very important for us to come out and play well because we have a big target on our backs, being picked No. 1," said AW's Ashley Bromley, who finished with eight points, including two of the Generals' five 3-pointers.
"We were very confident. We had some very tough practices this week."
The Generals found it difficult to put the Yellow Jackets away in the second half. With Ashley Parrish scoring eight points and Nicole Parrish providing seven points in the third quarter, Perrysburg outscored AW 21-14 to tie the game at 48.
Nicole Parrish put back an offensive rebound for the final basket of the third quarter to finish off a 13-4 run by the Yellow Jackets.
However, Perrysburg never took a lead. Bromley nailed her second 3-pointer of the night with 5:51 left in the fourth quarter to put the Generals ahead for good at 54-51.
"It's going to be a very tight race," Nicole Parrish said.
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com or 419-724-6302.