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For the better part of three quarters and even into the fourth, Springfield's young, up-and-coming basketball team looked poised for an upset of visiting first-place Perrysburg Tuesday night.
But, down the stretch, the Yellow Jackets continued riding the inside play of senior standout Charlie Hughes, and eventually overtook the Blue Devils for a 70-64 Northern Lakes League victory.
Hughes, the crafty and efficient 6-5 forward, preyed on Springfield (6-3, 4-3 NLL) for 15 field goals in 21 attempts en route to 35 points, and added a team-high eight rebounds in pushing the Jackets to 10-1, 7-0.
Perrysburg soars by Springfield
Senior guard Matt Marquette added 12 points for Perrysburg, all in the second half.
Their work offset Springfield's potent 1-2 punch of junior Chester McFadden and sophomore Leroy Alexander, who notched 23 points apiece and pulled down 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.
"They've got some players, and they just kept making shots," Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said of Springfield. "We kept telling our kids to hang in there, and we had to get some rebounds. We had to make a defensive play sooner or later.
"I think we finally got them out of rhythm a little bit at the same time that we hit a few shots, and the momentum changed. Then it was anybody's game."
The Blue Devils, who trailed 18-17 after one quarter, fell behind by six before closing the half with a 13-4 run to take a 33-29 lead to the break.
Finding an up-tempo pace to its liking, Springfield twice pushed its lead to eight points - 37-29 on Kevin Outly's driving lay-up
1:09 into the third quarter, and
47-39 on Alexander's 16-footer from the left wing with 3:03 left in that period.
But that's when the Yellow Jackets managed to halt the Devils without changing the game's pace. They simply executed better over the final 11 minutes.
"It was all about playing our game, not theirs," Hughes said of his team's strong finish. "Coaches say that all the time, and it might be clich, but that's what we did.
"We have a great point guard in Brian Boyce, and that's where tempo starts. He's a terrific ball-handler and passer, and he did a nice job tonight taking care of it and distributing."
A Hughes three-point play and two Marquette 3-pointers helped pull Perrysburg within 51-50 entering the final quarter, and that momentum continued as the Jackets' outscored Springfield 20-13 over the last eight minutes.
"We talked about wanting to come out of the half with some fire, and we didn't really do that," Hughes said. "But we hunkered down, we got a timeout, and we all looked at each other and knew we could take care of it.
"We had some shooters make some shots, so their defense couldn't completely collapse. I got the ball in places where I'm good at scoring, and that's what I did."
The Jackets took the lead for good when back-to-back
layups from Hughes and Andrew
Holliger netted a 56-55 edge with 5:19 remaining.
"We kind of hit a dry spell like we did against Bowling Green
[65-62 loss]," Devils coach Tim Reiser said. "We had some pretty good looks, but we didn't take care of the basketball. To Perrysburg's credit, they came down and hit some big 3s against our zone.
"We were trying to get some more movement offensively, and they did a nice job taking away some stuff offensively from us.
"We worked all week trying to take [Hughes] away from going to his left, and we just were never able to get that done. They went to him when they needed a bucket, and he's very crafty inside and did a nice job."
When senior point guard Brian Boyce meshed a pair of free throws with 2:24 left, Perrysburg - which was 8-of-12 from the field in the fourth quarter - had its biggest lead of the game at 64-57.
"Charlie did a really nice job finishing more than anything," coach Boyce said. "He was very active. Our guys found him, but he made some tough catches and tough shots, and he kept doing it for 32 minutes."
The Jackets were 27-of-51 (53 percent) from the field, 11-of-13 from the line, and forced 15 Devil turnovers while committing 12. Springfield was 26-of-68 (38 percent) from the field, 6-of-9 from the line, and outrebounded Perrysburg 36-25.
Contact Steve Junga at:
or 419-724-6461.35.00502 -87.82111