Enough clichés have been written to fill a scrapbook when it comes to “cross-town” rivalries, but that’s because many of them are true.
Saturday night was no different at The Plank as Perkins entertained Sandusky in its annual showdown on the hardwood. While Perkins has enjoyed some success in recent years while the Blue Streaks have struggled, anything can happen when two teams separated by just a few miles take the court.
When the buzzer sounded, clutch free throw shooting and a huge margin on the glass proved to be the difference for Perkins.
Just barely, though.
A fast and furious fourth quarter Sandusky rally came up just short and the Pirates were able to escape with a 68-67 win.
While it’s a loss in the scorebook, Sandusky coach Dustin Sharp said this was perhaps one of the best games his youthful squad has played this season.
“I think we grew up a little bit this game,” Sharp said. “If we didn’t have the first half I think it could have been a different outcome. We knocked down some shots and we didn’t give up. We were able to change our defense and get them to turn the ball over a little bit and we scrambled around. The effort was great tonight from every single one of my kids.”
Perkins (13-2), which is on a nine-game winning streak, looked to have this one sewn up after growing its eight point halftime lead into a 56-41 cushion after three quarters of play. Two free throws from senior Nic Williams put the Pirates up 64-46 with 5:20 to play, but Sandusky (3-12) went on a 15-0 run, capped off by freshman Jayrese Williams’ pull-up jumper, to make it 64-61 with 34 seconds left in the game.
Sophomore Matt Schweinfurth finally ended the drought for Perkins with a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left, but Jayrese Williams drilled a 3-pointer with eight seconds to play to make it 66-64 before Nic Williams made two more free throws with six seconds to give the Pirates needed breathing room. Jayrese Williams wasn’t done, though, connecting his fifth 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final points of a wild fourth quarter.
“That 15-0 run wasn’t just one person, it was five guys out there,” Sharp said, pleased with the teamwork he got out of his Streaks. “Offensive rebounds, steals, that was a 15-0 team effort, that’s what I would call it.”
Perkins owned the glass, outrebounding Sandusky 50-32, including a 25-10 advantage at the half and 40-20 through three quarters. The Pirates also went 14-of-15 at the line, including all nine second-half offerings. They needed every one of them.
“If we make half our layups it’s a much different game,” said Perkins coach Scott McVeigh. “It was a tight game, and it’s good to play in these games. That’s why we play Sandusky. Ever since I’ve coached and we’ve played Sandusky they’ve always had a run. I tell you they hit a nice run in the fourth quarter and did some nice things against us.
“We missed a lot of shots we normally don’t miss,” he added. “If we do that in the fourth, it’s much different. The free throws came up huge, and Matt Schweinfurth hit some big shots for us. When you look at a couple of the 3’s he hit when he got offensive that was huge.”
Nic Williams, who was honored just before tip-off for becoming the new Perkins all-time leading scorer earlier this season in a game against Huron, paced the Pirate attack with 24 points, while hauling down 14 rebounds. Schweinfurth added 19 points, with Kyle Lewis chipping in with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
For the Streaks, Jayrese Williams also finished with 24 points behind the five 3-pointers and Davion Fisher added 15. Demond Hopkins contributed with eight points and 11 rebounds, all in the second half.
While McVeigh said a rebounding advantage is something he expects from his team and his goal is to double up his opponents total, Sharp knows his Streaks have work to do in that area.
“It’s been our Achilles Heel all year but we know we’ve got to get better at it,” Sharp said. “They were a little more physical, you can definitely tell the weight room has paid off for them. My guys aren’t there yet. Obviously, (Perkins) is a little older so that plays a factor. Sometimes rebounding is just in your brain, you have to go get it.”
“I think (this game) was a confidence booster,” Sharp added. “You don’t have to take anything away from a loss but we just hung with one of the best teams in the area and lost by a point.”