Aaron Driftmyer glanced up at Huron's Sandusky Bay Conference banner hanging in the gym.
“It would be really cool to put my last year up there on the board to come home to,” he said.
The 6-foot-3 senior is a big reason why Huron is still in the race for the SBC title.
Driftmyer scored 19 points to lead the Tigers over Perkins 72-60 in conference action Saturday.
Huron had four players score in double figures and shot 54 percent from the field.
“We were just fired up,” Driftmyer said. “It was a really big game and we really embraced all the community coming out and kept playing all the way to the end. We've just gotta to keep it up. We can't have any flukes. They've lost one, we've lost one in the conference.”
Fans packed the gym for the highly anticipated rematch and Huron announcer Mac Lehrer announced the teams in a UFC style introduction.
The student section stormed the floor at the buzzer and Huron coach Bobby James let out a big sigh of relief.
The win snaps a five-game losing streak against Perkins. The Tigers have won just 2 of the last 15 meetings, and are looking for their first SBC title since the 2005-06 season.
“I've had that monkey on my back for a long time,” Huron coach Bobby James said. “Perkins is so well coached and they've got players in (Nic) Williams and (Brandon) Smith. Brandon Smith was unbelievable tonight.
“I tell you what give our kids all the credit because they played their tails off and it has nothing to do with me or anybody else. It was all our kids, and they were unbelievable.”
The Tigers opened up with a 14-2 run. After a timeout by Perkins, the Pirates rallied by to end the first quarter down 18-12.
The Tigers continued to knock down shots and own the glass to end the half with a 30-22 lead.
By halftime, Huron had six players on the board while Perkins only had three scorers. The Tigers were 11 of 20 from the field in the first half while the Pirates were 7 of 22.
James said a strong start was crucial.
“Last year they came here and they really took it to us and got into us really good,” he said. “I think they were up 8 or 9 nothing before we even got a free throw. Same thing over at their place. They ended up beating us by 30, but the kids persevered tonight, and I thought they played a great game.”
The Tigers broke out the lead several times in the third quarter but Perkins' Brandon Smith kept the Pirates within 10 points on several shots. He scored nine of his 29 points in the third quarter.
Colin McCready knocked down a jumper with a minute remaining in the third quarter. Cody Thompson hit a shot with 7 seconds to go and Perkins was called for a lane violation on their next play. Huron got the ball and McCready put up a shot at the buzzer to go up 54-38 heading into the final quarter.
The Tigers went on a 6-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter, capped off by a score from Driftmyer that put Huron up 20 points.
“Good players step up in big games and he stepped up tonight and had a great game,” James said of Driftmyer. “It's the last time he is going to play these guys, and he stepped right up and did a great job. I am so proud of the way he's playing.”
The Tigers cruised the rest of the way.
“All of our seniors were unbelievable tonight and Cody (Thompson) was phenomenal,” James said. “That was the best game Cody has played, and that is why we won.”
The Pirates had no inside presence and shot just 38 percent from the field.
“I told them before the buzzer sounded, give them credit, they came out and they beat us,” Perkins coach Scott McVeigh said. “The better team tonight won. We can't be surprised with the outcome with that effort. They played exceptional and they dictated most of that game.
“They dictated on the defensive end. We settled. We settled for bad shots. We settled for 23-24 footers. We settled for contested ones. On the other end, they executed. They executed to a T, got quality looks and knocked them down. Mr. Driftmyer came to play tonight. That's probably the best game that he's played all year that I've seen. He was a big X-factor early. ”
Aaron Casey added 17 points and six rebounds for the Tigers, Thompson scored 13 points, and McCready added 14 points.