Perry and Delphos Jefferson met on Saturday night with one goal in mind: To prove they were better than their 0-2 records.
Delphos Jefferson won the battle with the Commodores in the newly christened Leonard V. Volbert Gymnasium 63-58, with many of their points coming from free throw attempts. The Wildcats were good on 29 of their 40 trips to the charity stripe.
“We attacked the rim and created contact,” Delphos Jefferson coach Marc Smith said. “And we capitalized on it for the most part. We made some clutch free throws near the end. For a young team that’s still learning, I’m happy with a close win like this.”
The Wildcats began the game on a 10-1 run, and were outplaying Perry in all facets of the game until foul trouble began to strike both teams. Before long, Delphos Jefferson had three of their starters on the bench with two fouls each, while Perry began to piece together successful possessions. The deficit remained where it was all the way to a 33-24 halftime score.
The second half was a completely different game in terms of shooting. Perry began to develop quick scoring plays and, consequently, eat up the deficit. By the end of the quarter, Perry trailed by just two. In the fourth quarter, Perry tied the game for the first time since tip-off, 45-45, before allowing the Wildcats to regain the lead.
Perry never led in the game.
“We knew we were going to get about as good of a shot from them as possible,” Smith said. “But we also knew we were going to find a way to win. We came out and got the job done, and I’m very proud of our kids for that.”
Freshman Trey Smith led the Wildcats on Saturday night with 17 points, shooting 3-of-9 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Austin Jettinghoff and Zach Ricker added 12 points each.
Jared Poling also scored 17 points to lead the commodores, while Raheem Johnson added 15 points. Freshman point guard Ralphael Sanders scored 11 points in his first game since coming off a two-game suspension.
“Our first two games are not indicative of who we are as a team,” Perry coach Matt Tabler said. “When Ralphael is out on the floor he’s going to get other people open and make plays that help us. We’re young, and it’s still a process. But, there’s no quit in us.”
Despite the loss, it was a big night for Perry as the school dedicated its gymnasium to former student and coach Leonard V. Volbert. Volbert coached Perry from 1961-1968 and posted a conference record of 59-1 during that tenure.
“It really means a lot to me, what everyone’s doing,” Volbert said. “I have a lot of old friends and former players here that I haven’t seen in a long time. So I appreciate this opportunity.”