In the first six minutes of Saturday's Division II district final, Perkins looked anything but a team capable of winning back-to-back titles.
But in the last two minutes of regulation and during four minutes of overtime, the Pirates looked better than they have all year.
Perkins (21-5) survived a game that saw the lead change hands 11 times over the course of 36 minutes of play at Bowling Green's Stroh Center and earned its second straight district championship with a 50-47 win over Toledo Scott (13-10) in overtime.
The Pirates will face Columbus Bishop Watterson at 6:15 p.m. Thursday in the regional semifinal, back at the Stroh Center.
“It took us four extra minutes but we'll take it,” Perkins coach Scott McVeigh said. “We survived and we are moving on and we're happy. We're very happy that two years in a row we get district champs and we've got another shot at regionals.”
The Pirates had a 33-31 lead entering the final eight minutes of regulation and opened it up to a 38-31 lead after a lane drive and 3-ball by Brandon Smith.
Toledo Scott went on an 8-2 run to tie it back up at 40 with 3:05 left to play.
Neither team scored for the next two minutes.
After a Scott timeout, Nic Williams was fouled driving to the hoop and knocked down both freebies.
Kyle Lewis fouled Scott's Bryson Collins on a lane drive and Collins also hit both free throws with 26 seconds left.
Smith got the ball in the final seconds of regulation and attempted a score in the middle of the lane but his shot was hard off the glass, but the senior didn't flinch.
“We knew in overtime that we probably weren't going to lose the game because that's just the type of kids we are,” Smith said. “We had some momentum there. I know they made the last two free throws but we thought in the second half we really knew what to do.”
Smith was right.
Williams split the defense for a driving score on the first possession of overtime.
Smith fouled Scott's Chris Harris, who knocked down both free throws with 3:17 left to play. Mitch Benkey fouled Scott's Chris Darrington, but Darrington only hit one of his two free throws. The Pirates got the rebound and Williams drove the lane again, but dished it to Kyle Lewis for a layup to take a 46-45 lead.
Williams fouled Collins on the ensuing play for a potential three-point play but Collins missed the free shot. The Bulldogs' 47-46 lead at 1:49 was their last.
The Pirates found Benkey down low for another wide open layup to go up 48-47 with 1:25 left. Perkins got the ball back immediately when Lewis took a charge, and Scott was forced to foul the Pirates' best free throw shooter. Smith connected on both freebies with 38 seconds left.
The Bulldogs failed to connect on two 3-pointers in the closing 10 seconds and fouled Lewis, who missed both free throws. Scott had 4.6 seconds to set up a play but mishandled the ball and threw up an off-balanced desperation miss.
“We thought coming out the first two possessions were the biggest possessions of overtime,” McVeigh said. “We just wanted to stay aggressive. When we are aggressive good things happen. It was just buckling down and getting stops and executing on the offensive end.”
Both teams had depth in scoring and Scott coach Chris Dames said it was impossible to limit the Pirates.
“This was just an old fashioned slug fest,” Dames said. “This wasn't about anybody's stars in this game. I think both teams had excellent game plans on how to shut the other team's guy down.
“It was hard to pressure them. They were bigger and very patient. What we didn't want to do was give them easy baskets. We kind of came in and out of the press just to give them something to look at and maybe slow them down a little so they couldn't get the ball up the floor quickly.”
The Pirates got down 6-0 in the first six minutes of the game, after seven missed field goals of their own.
A deep 3 followed by a baseline drive from Smith capped off with a jumper from Williams allowed the Pirates a 7-6 lead after eight minutes of play, and some of their confidence back.
“Their pressure is hard to simulate in practice,” Smith said of the Pirates' sluggish start. “But once I made my first shot that got a lot of confidence going. We were down 6-0 and we weren't too nervous, but our goal is to come out and knock them out early and we did really do that but coming back and getting that lead really helped us.”
Smith finished with 21 points on 7 of 14 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and had two blocked shots. Williams finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists.
The Pirates shot just 26.3 percent in the first half but turned the game around with a 64.3 percent second half performance and went 3 of 4 in overtime.
“We knew second half, predominately we have never taken a whole game and shot that bad so we were confident those shots would start falling in the second half,” McVeigh said. “What a great second half (Smith) had. Showed a lot of leadership, showed a lot of poise. Did a lot of little things. Collectively I think as a team, anybody that stepped on that floor gave us something tonight. Whether it's Brandon knocking down shots, finding the open guy, David (Doster) at the point guard, I thought him and Brandon did a great job second half taking care of the ball.”
The Bulldogs had several chances to break open a big lead in the second quarter.
“We needed to limit their runs,” McVeigh said. “They are very athletic and they have a team that can put up a bunch of points very quickly on you. We did a decent job of limiting those. That falls on these guys shoulders. They are a veteran group and they are poised. I never saw a glimpse of distraught in their faces and we just focused on the possession we were in.”