PANDORA — Pandora-Gilboa’s all-time leading scorer Drew Johnson was on the bench with early foul trouble.
So all the Rockets did was play swarming man defense and get plenty of contributions besides Johnson.
P-G erased a three-point halftime deficit to post a 59-51 boys basketball victory over Ottoville in a Putnam County League boys basketball game Saturday at P-G.
The game was played before a packed-in crowd of 1,500.
“We loved it because we had a big crowd,” P-G coach Joe Braidic said. “If you want to do anything down the stretch and in the tournament, you have to be able to handle the pressure.’’
Ottoville led 22-19 at the break, with Johnson sitting out the final 7:36 of the second quarter with his second foul.
The Rockets then came out and outscored the Big Green 19-6 in the third to pull out to a 38-28 lead.
“Defensively, we were spot on (in the first half),” P-G coach Joe Braidic said. “I said if you keep doing that and keep attacking the basket, those shots are going to fall (in the second half). And the kids started taking the ball to the basket, we got open looks and Coop (Cooper McCullough) hit those threes and that just broke it open.’’
P-G guard Cooper McCullough had 18 points with three 3-pointers to lead the Rockets.
“We try to get to the basket as much as we can to draw the foul,” McCullough said. “Our biggest thing is to get the ball to the paint and kick out. And, defensively, we played one heck of a game.’’
Johnson finished with 13 points and four rebounds. Johnson fouled out with 1:48 to go.
“Drew was feeling a little sick this morning and we knew we had to pick it up,” McCullough said.
P-G guard Jared Breece had 12 points, all in the second half. Many came on drives to the rim.
“We told him he could take that guy to the basket,” Braidic said of Breece. “And he started driving.’’
Riley Larcum had seven points and 12 rebounds. He also did a good job holding Big Green freshman shooter Josh Thorbahn to 11 points, including three NBA-like 3-pointers.
“Riley is a really good defender and people have a hard time scoring on him,” Braidic said. “That kid can really play. Thorbahn can really play, too. … We wanted them to shoot over us.’’
Nick Moorman had 18 points for Ottoville. Logan Kemper had nine points and 12 rebounds.
P-G won the boards 28-25.
P-G is 10-1, 4-0 in the PCL. Ottoville is 11-3, 1-3 in the PCL.
The game came down to the third quarter when Johnson came back to the lineup.
P-G started the quarter on an 11-3 run to pull out to a 30-25 lead.
Breece got to the basket with a layup and McCullough sank a 3-pointer.
Breece continually powered his way to the basket in the second half, either scoring, getting fouled or dishing off to a teammate for an easy basket.
P-G finished it off by hitting 13 of 16 at the line in the final quarter.
For the second half the Rockets were 18 of 22 at the line. Grant Murphy (eight points) was 6 of 6 at the line, while Johnson was 5 of 6.
The Rockets led 11-8 after the first quarter. McCullough had six first-quarter points, with a 3-pointer for P-G.
But at the 7:36 mark of the second quarter, P-G’s 6-foot-6 Johnson went to the bench with his second foul.
He wouldn’t return in the first half and had four points.
Moorman had nine points for the Big Green in the first half, as it pulled out to a 22-19 halftime lead.
“This was a huge game for us,” McCullough said.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0468.