It was a nonleague basketball season-opener, but St. Francis de Sales and visiting Perrysburg looked closer to mid-season form last night.
In a game that had four ties and 14 lead changes, including eight trades of the lead in the final 4:37, Perrysburg's Jake Smith had the last answer in the Yellow Jackets' 53-52 win.
The 6-4 senior guard was Johnny-on-the-spot, grabbing a loose ball under the basket off a missed 3-point try by teammate David Hieber, then laying in the game-winner with just 2.7 seconds to play.
"[Hieber] shot, and I saw it going up," Smith said. "I just wanted to get good position to rebound, and it came right to me, so I put it back up. It must have been the right place at the right time. I was just happy I made the shot and we ended up winning the game."
Smith was fouled on the shot and missed the subsequent free throw but, after a St. Francis rebound and timeout, a desperation 3-point try at the buzzer by Knight guard Kent Goldsmith missed the mark.
"If it had gone two more minutes, both teams probably would have had three more chances each to win it," Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said. "It was an evenly played game, and, for the first game of the year, I thought it was pretty high quality. They took some things away from us, and we tried to take some things away from them."
The Knights had gone ahead 52-51 with 23 seconds remaining on Goldsmith's clutch 17-foot jumper from the left wing. That came 30 seconds after the 6-7 Hieber had put the Yellow Jackets up with his fourth 3-pointer of the game.
"Sometimes the ball bounces for you, and sometimes it bounces against you," Knights coach Nick Lowe said. "It was two pretty good teams that went toe-to-toe.
"For a first game I don't think you can ask for more. It was two teams delivering blows for 32 minutes and both teams responding at given times. They made the last play."
Hieber topped Perrysburg with 16 points (4-of-13 on 3-pointers) to go with six rebounds, and teammate Charlie Hughes had 14 points and four rebounds.
Smith added eight points and 10 boards for the Jackets, who shared the Northern Lakes League title last season and went 22-2 overall in reaching the Division I regional semifinals.
St. Francis, which was picked to finish third in the City League, was paced by 6-11 junior center Storm Stanley, who posted game highs of 18 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocked shots.
"We tried three or four different things on [Stanley], and [6-4] Charlie Hughes played as hard as he could play all night," Boyce said. "He was at a big disadvantage because the kid's tough. We stopped him a few times, but he got his share of points too."
Brody Henry added 11 points for the Knights, including eight in the first 3:23 of the final quarter to help St. Francis stay close.
Perrysburg's biggest lead in the game was 10-3 after back-to-back buckets from Hughes. The Knight's largest edge came at 26-20 after Robert Payak converted a three-point play 1:11 before halftime.
St. Francis was 18-of-43 (42 percent) from the field, 12-of-18 from the line, and outrebounded the Jackets 37-32. Perrysburg was 21-of-57 (37 percent) from the field, 7-of-16 from the line, and forced 22 Knight turnovers while committing just 11.
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