Defending league champion Perrysburg sits in the driver s seat, headed in the direction of picking up another Northern Lakes League boys basketball title.
No one is more responsible for steering the Yellow Jackets toward a third straight championship fifth in seven seasons than senior guard Andrew Wood.
But the league s leading scorer has provided Perrysburg with far more than just points this season.
He s being a team leader, Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said. He works with the younger guys and he s been there to pick them up when they make mistakes.
However, Wood s action on the court still carries more weight with a young and inexperienced group of underclassmen. His 21.6 scoring average speaks volumes. His role in the team s 12-5 overall record and 9-3 league mark, which leads the race by one game with two remaining, says plenty.
Senior forward Glen Empie averages 11.2 points and is shooting 77 percent from the floor.
He s our main leader, said David Boyce, a junior point guard, who is the coach s son. If we didn t have him we would have had a lot closer games.
Wood played out of position for most of his first season on the varsity a year ago. Duty called for him to fill in at point guard even though his preference and most of his previous experience in the backcourt was playing shooting guard.
Yet, he did his part, averaging 16.2 points per game as the Yellow Jackets won the NLL with a 14-0 league record.
Last year I just shot 3 s, Wood said. This year I m driving to the basket a lot more and I think I ve even improved my passing.
Wood s primary responsibility this season has been to put the ball in the basket. With a shooting range that stretches a few feet beyond the 3-point line, Wood has gladly stepped into his role.
It s a greater responsibility than last year, but I give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches, he said. They give me the ball to shoot and they get me open shots. It s not really a surprise that Wood has raised his scoring average five points from a year ago when he attempted fewer shots as a secondary scoring option behind all-league performer Scott Perkins, who averaged 19 points during his senior season.
He s got a scorer s mentality and he can score in a variety of ways, said Boyce, who is in his sixth season as Perrysburg coach. I think the big thing for us is he s efficient at scoring points. In our system, most of the shots he takes are within the system.
Perrysburg s David Boyce takes a shot against Northview s Chad Weaver. Boyce, a point guard, averages 7.9 points and 6.7 assists.
Wood has always been a player who looked to score even though his quick-release jump shot is not textbook.
I have a weird shot, Wood said. The ball spins in a weird sideways way, but it goes in.
Wood has proven he s capable of scoring in bunches. He scored 25 of his season-high 32 points in the second half Friday at Northview to spark a 78-52 victory that put the Yellow Jackets a game ahead of everyone else in the NLL. He finished with four 3-pointers.
As coach Boyce says, I have great range, Wood said. I don t really ever know how far I am behind the [3-point] line after I shoot it. It s like you re feeling unstoppable when you get into the flow of the game.
Wood s teammates recognize their top scorer s tendencies.
When he s shooting good we pretty much don t lose, David Boyce said. We can usually tell if he s on in warm-ups and if he hits his first three shots [in a game].
Wood s offensive output has also been beneficial in presenting scoring opportunities for others, primarily senior forward Glen Empie, as well as guards Neal Linthicum and David Boyce.
Andrew helps everyone play better, David Boyce said.
Empie is averaging 11.2 points, shooting an outstanding 77 percent (73 of 95) from the floor.
Linthicum averages 10.7 points per game. David Boyce averages 7.9 points and a team-leading 6.7 assists.
The only league games that remain for the Yellow Jackets are home dates against Maumee (tomorrow) and Springfield (Feb. 23). Winning the two will secure another title.
The team really came together this year and right now I m trying to do my best to help us win league, Wood said.
There s little doubt that Wood will give it his best shot.
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com or 419-724-6302.