Get the popcorn ready.
For the first time, crosstown rivals Sandusky and Perkins will play in a win or go home setting in boys basketball.
The Blue Streaks avenged two narrow regular season losses to Bellevue with a 21-4 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter of a 65-46 win Tuesday night in a Division II sectional semifinal at Willard High School. The win allows Sandusky (6-17) to advance to Friday's championship game at roughly 8 p.m. against the Pirates (19-3).
This season marked the first year Sandusky is a Div. II basketball school, which opened the door for a rematch with Perkins. Adding spice to a game that needs little: The Pirates held off a furious Sandusky rally for a 68-67 win on Feb. 1 at Perkins.
“These kids are all about it, and I'm sure Perkins is the same way,” Sandusky coach Dustin Sharp said of the rematch. “It's a rivalry — a great rivalry — that brings the communities together, regardless of who wins or loses. I'm sure it will be packed on Friday.
“People who might not have been following Sandusky basketball may see we're playing Perkins for a sectional championship and come out,” he added. “It should be a nice crowd and a great environment. It will be fun.”
Bellevue (4-19) had posted wins of 75-70 and 56-55 in the regular season over the Blue Streaks. And after a 15-7 scoring run over the final 3:30 of the third quarter made it a 44-42 game entering the fourth quarter, it appeared fans were in for another photo finish.
But two sophomores and a freshman didn't let the tournament stage get too big, and took over the game.
Freshman Jayrese Williams opened with a mid-range jumper at the top of the key, and sophomore George Brown followed with a short runner that made it 48-42 with 6:12 left.
Sophomore Davion Fisher then added a pair of free throws, and Brown then came back to convert a three-point play, then followed with a 3-pointer with 4:37 left. Suddenly, it was 56-42 in favor of the Blue Streaks after a 12-0 run by the three underclassmen.
The Redmen got a basket to stop the bleeding, but only briefly. Fisher responded with back-to-back driving baskets to extend the lead to 60-44 with 2:40 left, and the rout was on.
“We just wanted to keep our intensity up and play hard,” Sharp said. “No team is going to go down easy and Bellevue made a run at us, but we kept our composure. We got four guys in double-figures tonight, and when we can do that, we can be a tough team to beat no matter who we play when we get that type of distribution.
“But we made some shots, we were aggressive, and finished once we got to the basket,” he added. “I thought defensively we clamped down a little bit too and made it tough on them to get rebounds in the fourth quarter.”
Bellevue coach Brad Scheiber said it got away from the Redmen in a matter of seconds to begin the final eight minutes.
“We had a chance to start the quarter right and tie it up, and we missed a layup,” he said. “It was a big momentum changer and then we missed however many shots the rest of the way. You can't do anything when you go 21-4 in the fourth quarter. The kids worked it back and we were right where we needed to be, but it fell apart.
“They had four guys in double-figures and had some guys score over their average, which is what they needed to do,” he added. “We knew Fisher could score, but they shot the ball well tonight, especially the freshman. He did a nice job.”
Sandusky opened the game with an 18-12 lead after the first quarter, but then a deep buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Dylan Dewitt just before halftime allowed the Redmen to keep it a six-point deficit at 29-23.
Sandusky went up by as much as 10 in the third, as a Fisher basket made it 37-27 before the Redmen got hot and closed the quarter strong.
After two meetings decided by six points, Sharp said there wasn't much to say to his team.
“Both teams knew what they were going to do, and it was going to come down to who made more plays,” he said. “And tonight, I was just happy we made plays down the stretch when we needed to. We got a couple big 3s and made some free throws to space out the game a little more.”
Dewitt scored 14 points for Bellevue, while Ross Gerwin added 11. Sandusky got 17 points from Williams, 16 points and six rebounds from Brown, along with 14 points and five rebounds from Fisher and 13 points and seven rebounds from Michael Delk.
Sharp said the emergence of Brown has been a key development down the stretch for the Blue Streaks.
“George is starting to really develop and understand the game,” he said. “He's not relying on his jump shot, he's being aggressive and is one of our best passers as well. If he can be aggressive, that gives us three guys with Jayrese and Davion who can attack the basket. He's been getting better and better as the season has gone on.”