PETTISVILLE - The Blackbirds cut Liberty Center’s 13 point lead at the third quarter break down to six with 33 seconds left in the game, but Matt Huber and Logan Meyer hit free throws down the stretch to seal the Tigers’ victory, 58-50 at Pettisville Monday night.
In the first quarter, the Blackbirds broke open a 8-8 tie and went on a 9-1 run over the final four minutes of the opening frame.
Korben Rychener buried two triples around one of two free throws for Kaleb Pohlman, then Jacob Reyes got a steal and score plus a jumper from Eli King that gave Pettisville an 18-9 lead heading into the second.
The second quarter was a different story as the Tigers outscored Pettisville 16-3. Turnovers were the major plague for the Blackbirds as they had 25 for the game.
Meyer scored on the Tigers first possession, followed by a Blackbirds’ turnover that led to a Huber triple that cut the Pettisville lead to 18-14.
With 6:07 left until the break, Huber got free for the Tigers and hit a corner triple that cut their deficit to one and forced a timeout from Pettisville coach Greg Nofziger. Off the timeout, Kam Pohlman got to the line and drilled two free throws to give the Tigers the lead, 19-18.
Then after Austin Dykstra went one for two at the foul lint to tie it, Konnor Pohlman scored twice and Kody Chestnut scored on the block to put the Tigers up by six with less than three minutes until halftime.
Dykstra hit a corner two near the three point arc and Pettisville trailed 25-21 going into the locker room.
Josh Liechty hit a jumper on the Blackbirds first possession of the third quarter, but Meyer answered with a three point play that put them up five, 28-23.
The Blackbirds responded to triples from Konnor Pohlman and Meyer with baskets by Rychener and Liechty that made the Tigers’ advantage seven, 34-27, with under five to go. However, Liberty Center would outscore them 8-2 over the final 3:07 and take a 42-29 lead into the final stanza.
In the fourth, Meyer answered one of two free throws from Dykstra with a layup that put the Tigers up 48-34 at about the five minute mark. Yet despite being down by double-digits late, the Blackbirds never quit.
After a Pettisville bucket and one of two free throws for Liberty Center, the Blackbirds went on a 7-0 run that cut their deficit to six, 49-43.
Tate Kauffman scored five of the seven points with a three and two at the charity stripe. Then Rychener got free for a hoop that finished off the run.
Free throws from Huber and Kaleb Pohlman helped Liberty Center build its lead back to 10. They followed Pohlman’s free throws with a timeout to get them on the same page in the closing minutes.
After the brief pause, Rychener drew contact at the rim and hit two free throws that cut the Tigers lead to eight, 54-46. And on the Blackbirds next possession, Rychener again drew contact, this time it was hard contact that drove him against the back wall and drew an intentional foul on Kaleb Pohlman.
Rychener stayed in the game and hit two free throws, reducing the deficit to six, 54-48.
The Blackbirds could not cash in on their possession after the intentional foul and Huber added two free throws as the Blackbirds were forced to foul with less than a minute to play.
Liechty did hit a jumper with 15 seconds remaining that made it a two possession game at 56-50, but there simply was not enough time.
Meyer closed off scoring with two more at the charity stripe and Pettisville failed to score on its last possession.
Meyer for Liberty and Rychener for Pettisville led all scorers with 17 points apiece. Also for Pettisville, Liechty notched 10 and Dykstra was big on the glass with 13 rebounds.
Pettisville (10-9, 7-1 BBC) will travel to Stryker on Friday and host Wauseon (13-5, 5-1 NWOAL) Saturday.