FINDLAY - Just when it seemed like everything was falling Perrysburg's way against Marion Harding during last night's Division I girls basketball district final, the unexpected happened.
Leading 16-8 midway through the second quarter, the Yellow Jackets seemed primed to blow the game wide open in their favor.
However, for the next 15 minutes and 40 seconds of action, Perrysburg failed to make a field goal and Harding responded with a furious 33-2 run that ultimately led to a 44-28 romp for the Presidents at the University of Findlay gym.
The Yellow Jackets' only points during the drought were two free throws in the third quarter when they were outscored 17-2.
"We could not score and that was the most amazing thing," Perrysburg coach Mark Schrock said. "We couldn't throw it in the ocean."
Perrysburg's lone senior Nicole Parrish finally put an end to the shooting slump that stretched through three quarters when she swished a 3-pointer to make it 41-21 with 5:17 left in the fourth quarter. She and Maddie Gutkoski had accounted for a free throw apiece for Perrysburg's only other points during that period of the contest when Harding (23-1) rallied from an eight-point deficit to take a 23-point advantage.
"A little bit was due to them," said Schrock, referring to the Presidents.
"They're big and it was hard for us to get shots off. They blocked a lot of our shots that we usually get off, so you've got to give them credit.
The blocked shots caused Perrysburg to become a little bit tentative about shooting, Schrock said.
"And as soon as you become tentative it's hard to make shots."
Parrish paced Perrysburg (18-5) by scoring a team-high nine points and grabbing a team-best six rebounds. Megan Jones added five points and five rebounds while three others added four points apiece in the only game this season in which they did not score a field goal during an entire quarter.
Parrish didn't think the Yellow Jackets' scoring problems for nearly two quarters were due primarily to the Presidents' defensive presence as much as their own inability to put the ball in the basket. They had their share of opportunities to score from close range but the ball simply couldn't find its way into the basket.
"We just weren't making shots and we kind of let down defensively," she said.
The Presidents (23-1) stormed ahead thanks in part to Shawnta Dyer and Jessica Jenkins.
Dyer, a 6-1 sophomore, pumped in a game-high 17 points while ripping down a game-best 13 rebounds. Dyer, a 5-6 senior playmaker, added 11 points, including three 3-pointers during the Presidents' run that led to their claiming the championship for the first time in three trips to the district title game.
"We thought we could pressure their guards," Harding coach Bill Sycks said.
"I thought their guards had a hard time changing direction without turning their backs and we wanted to put a lot of pressure on them and I think that was the big reason.
"We played solid fundamental defense in the third quarter."
Despite the defeat in the district finals, Schrock considers the season, which included winning a share of the Northern Lakes League championship, a winning campaign for a team that included only one senior.
"We started off the season 1-2 and at that point if you would have said we'd finish 18-5 and win the league, I would have said, 'No way,'•" he said. "So, I'm really proud of these girls.
"They made it a really nice season. A special season.''
Parrish seconded that thought:
"We accomplished a lot this year," Parrish said. "We came together as a team and it was a lot of fun."
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