FINDLAY — No one knows Northern Lakes League champion Anthony Wayne any better than perennial NLL contender Perrysburg.
So few surprises, if any, were anticipated when the two met for a Division I district semifinal on Thursday night at Liberty-Benton.
The latest installment of the rivalry played up to expectations with the Generals emerging with a gritty 58-54 victory over the Yellow Jackets before an enthusiastic crowd.
Mark Donnal paced three Generals who scored in double figures. The 6-foot-10 Michigan recruit scored a team-high 20 points, including three of AW’s six 3-pointers, and grabbed 11 rebounds. Matt Fox pumped in 13 points, including one 3-pointer, and Hunter Debo hit two 3s in scoring 12 points.
The Generals (19-4) scored their third victory of the season against the Yellow Jackets (15-9) by playing steady from start to finish and making 14 of 17 foul shots, including a 9-for-10 effort in the fourth quarter.
PHOTO GALLERY: Anthony Wayne vs. Perrysburg
“It was play-by-play tonight,” AW coach Bryan Borcherdt said of the Generals’ approach. “It’s one of those things where you’re constantly trying to get one play ahead.
“Obviously, we both know each other, and we try to throw a wrinkle in here and there. It’s such a hard game to play because of that.”
The Generals, who will take on Mansfield Senior in a District final Saturday at the Stroh Center, did as they’d done in the previous meetings. They made enough plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor to come out on top.
Donnal knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first half to help establish AW’s offensive attack of making the most of good looks from the outside. He also made his presence felt late when he blocked a shot by a driving Shane Edwards that would have cut AW’s lead to three with just over two minutes left to play.
“Luckily tonight, we were four points better,” Borcherdt said. “I knew when we got a lead we needed to expand it because they don’t go away quietly, and they never do.”
Nick Moschetti poured in a game-high 22 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead the Yellow Jackets. Edwards scored 16 points, and Nate Patterson added eight points.
Perrysburg trailed by as much as 11 in the first half before cutting the lead to one point on two occasions in the second half.
AW trailed 44-43 after Moschetti nailed a 3-pointer with five minutes remaining that brought the Perrysburg fans to their feet. However, the Yellow Jackets never took the lead away.
“I thought tonight they shot it well early and we really didn’t, and they got a little bit of control of the game,” Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said.
Donnal scored seven points in the opening quarter, including a 3, to help AW take a 15-11 advantage.
AW opened the second quarter with an 8-2 run sparked by Fox, who drained a 3-pointer and came up with a steal and layup to make it 23-13 with less than five minutes left in the period. It became 26-15 shortly thereafter when Donnal burried his second 3-pointer.
The Generals took a 28-21 lead into halftime. Fox had 11 at the break while Donnal added 10.
Edwards and Patterson accounted for seven and six points, respectively, in the first half for the Yellow Jackets.
Yet the Generals had accomplished their goal: Leading at halftime. Then it became a matter of maintaining that lead.
“We knew we had to show up to beat them,” Fox said.
The Generals swept the two regular season meetings with the Yellow Jackets. They scored a 71-65 overtime win on Perrysburg’s court in January, then held on for a 54-48 victory on their home court in February.
Yellow Jackets coach commended his team for a solid season.
“I thought we played a very demanding schedule, and the kids came to play every night,” Boyce said. “We weren't the most consistent shooting team, but we always came back after a loss and went hard.”
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.