Perrysburg's boys basketball team may have slipped a bit this season from its Northern Lakes League championship form of recent years, but coach Dave Boyce's Yellow Jackets haven't drifted too far away from the winning chemistry that earned them seven league titles in nine seasons between 2002-10.
This year's champion, Bowling Green (17-4, 14-0 NLL) -- found out in stunning fashion last Friday when Kevin Schenk's buzzer-beating 3-pointer lifted the Jackets (15-7) to a stunning 46-43 upset in a Division I sectional final at Liberty-Benton.
BG had earlier beaten Perrysburg 62-51 and 75-62 this season.
"This [win over BG] was a third game on a neutral court and I think our guys had a decent feeling coming in that it was anybody's game," Boyce said. "What we had to do was show the ability to finish.
"In several of our losses we sorted of faded in the final minutes, so we had to quick looking back over our shoulder."
Friday's thrilling victory followed Perrysburg's 61-56 win over Lima Senior, earning the Yellow Jackets another tall challenge in a 7 p.m. district semifinal Thursday against Greater Buckeye Conference champion Findlay (19-2), also at Liberty-Benton.
"We've gotten better every month," Boyce said. "There were some bumps in the road this year. Without a true go-to guy, it took us a while to learn how to win in the fourth quarter.
"Most of our games were like a standing-eight count," Boyce said, "and we sort took it on the chin. Then we came back the next day, and got right back to work."
Boyce's crew is hoping for a little more tourney magic against the Trojans, who are led by the imposing frontcourt duo of 6-foot-10 junior center C.J. Gettys (18.5 points, 11.1 rebounds), and 6-6 senior forward Brock Ammons (15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds), along with a steady guard in Grant Birchmeier.
"Besides our obvious lack of size, and some rebounding issues, there were some great players in the area this year, and we've played almost all of them," Boyce said. "We played Whitmer; Bowling Green three times; and Springfield twice. We played Ottawa-Glandorf at O-G, and now we're going to play Findlay. It was a tough schedule.
"When you lose a few it affects your confidence. But our guys hung in there, and after the O-G loss, we strung together some wins."
The Jackets opened 4-4 in what has been a rebuilding season after graduating four starters from their 19-2 (14-0) NLL title run last year. They have won 11 of their last 14.
Perrysburg has been led by Schenk (13.1 points), a 5-10 senior guard, and Jake Pfleghaar (10.2 points, 5.0 rebounds). Rounding out the lineup are Karter Sell (7 points), Matt Schimmoeller (7 points), and Alec Schmenk (6 points). Schenk and Sell alternated as starters last season, Schmenk played about 10 minutes per game off the bench while Pfleghaar and Schimmoeller played on the junior varsity a year ago.
"We certainly don't match up with [Findlay] very well, and they beat us last year in the tournament when pretty much that same team was a year younger," Boyce said. "And, playing Findlay at [nearby] Liberty-Benton is like a home game for them. Their coach, Jim Rucki, is the baseball coach at Liberty-Benton.
"We've got some things to overcome, but we've got a game plan and we're going to show up and see what happens."
Perrysburg's best tournament run under Boyce came in 2008 when the Yellow Jackets finished 22-2 after losing to Whitmer in a regional semifinal in Akron.
Boyce is 187-53 in 11 seasons at Perrysburg, and has 394 career wins in a 28-year coaching trail that included three seasons at Northwood and 14 at Galloway Westland.