The biggest game in years in the Northern Lakes League featured the undefeated Perrysburg Yellow Jackets and the 16-3 Southview Cougars. At stake was the NLL championship and an overflow crowd of approximately 3,500 witnessed an exciting, back and forth affair, that saw the visiting Cougars hold on for 76-64 victory.
The evening began with Southview threatening to make it in to a rout. Through dominant rebounding and an aggressive defense that caused numerous Perrysburg turnovers, the Cougars jumped out to a surprising 24-3 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Perrysburg faithful sat in stunned silence as the quarter came to an end.
“I think our kids came out loose at the beginning, ” said Southview coach Marc Jump. “There is a lot of pressure on a team that is undefeated. We came out knowing that we had to win in order to claim a portion of the championship but did not have the additional pressure of being 19-0. They (Perrysburg) may have been affected early by that pressure.”
Matters did not improve substantially for the Yellow Jackets in the second quarter but they did manage to stem the flow and keep themselves within striking distance of the Cougars. Fortunately for the Jackets, there were some developing signs that the Cougar offensive onslaught was slowing down.
The Cougar big men were picking up fouls; Tim Hausfeld, the Cougars’ leading scorer was being shut down; and the rebounding edge was beginning to even out. In the early stages of the second half, these factors began to take their toll on the double digit Southview lead.
In the first four minutes of the second half Perrysburg turned the table on the Cougars. It was now the Jackets that were dominating the boards, getting second chance baskets and forcing the Cougars into turnovers. As a result, the final twelve minutes of the game developed into a close contest instead of the rout that appeared to be the case in the first half. In fact, the game became so close in the fourth quarters’ final minutes that a break here or there and the outcome might have been entirely different.
The closest Perrysburg could come was 66-62 with just under a minute to play but the Cougars had enough left at the end to turn the Yellow Jackets’ desperate attempts aside.
“They are a really talented team,” said Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce. “We dug too deep a hole.”
The stars for the winning Cougars were many. Typically, coach Jump uses his entire bench and last night was no exception. No fewer than five Southview players managed to reach double figures. Senior Derrick Cregue led the way with 18 but Josh Craig followed closely with 17. Guards Tim Hausfeld and Andy Borchert contributed 14 each and Bernard Pickney came off the bench to score 11.
For Perrysburg, sophomore Charlie Hughes was the big gun with 24 points. Hughes led the Jackets’ comeback in the second half by not only scoring but also pulling down rebounds and shutting down the Cougar big men inside. Fellow Jackets, Thomas Salmon and Neal Linthicum, contributed 17 and 15 respectively.
With their win the Cougars claim a share of the NLL championship with the Yellow Jackets. The Cougars finish the regular season at 17-3 while the Yellow Jackets finish at 19-1. Both teams enter the state playoffs next Friday.