PERRY TOWNSHIP — It appears Perry’s three-year reign as Northwest Central Conference champions is coming to an end.
Despite a second-half surge to try and erase a 12-point halftime deficit, the Commodores came up short against Upper Scioto Valley 55-48 Friday night.
The loss drops the Commodores to 5-7 overall but, more importantly, Perry falls to 1-3 in the NWCC with four league games left. With the win, the Rams improve to 10-2 overall and USV remains unbeaten at 3-0 in the NWCC.
“I told the boys before the game that they have won the league the last three years and while they are down this year I knew they were going to give us a fight,” USV head coach Jeff Kloepfer said.
Perry’s problem is that it could not overcome the smothering Rams’ defense nor the offensive play of sophomore post Quinn Sanders who pumped in a game-high 20 points.
After playing even throughout the first quarter, USV opened up a double-digit lead at halftime when the Rams outscored Perry 10-2 in the second stanza.
“I thought the second quarter was one of our best quarters defensively,” Kloepfer said. “We had active hands and we deflected a lot of passes and got a lot of steals that way.”
In that pivotal second quarter, USV, which had issues of its own holding onto the ball and could have probably opened up a bigger lead but failed to take full advantage of all the Perry miscues, got two key 3-pointers form Dylan Thompson to help the Rams open the 12-point advantage
Perry hurt itself with seven turnovers in the second period including four in the three minutes. Going 1 for 6 from the field hampered the Commodores’ cause as well.
“USV always has a very good defense and we are too one dimensional,” Perry head coach Matt Tabler said. “We told the other players that they were focusing on Jamal and Logan and I felt like our guys were kind of watching that. Like they were not playing basketball. They were not flashing to the ball. They weren’t cutting hard and not looking to score the basket.”
Perry finally found its shooting touch at the onset of the third quarter and a couple of 3-pointers from Logan Dray and four points each from Chazz Jackson and Jamal Whiteside helped slice the USV lead to seven after Perry outscored the Rams 14-9 in the third period.
The Commodores tried to continue their momentum into the fourth quarter, but Perry had no answer for Sanders who scored 10 of his points in the final period. Any time Perry would get the lead to single digits Sanders was there to stem the Commodores’ tide with a bucket. Wayne Lowry, who had five points in the fourth quarter including a clutch 3-pointer, also contributed to the Perry’s offensive success.
“I told them at halftime that they are going to come back,” Kloepfer said. “They have had this situation before a couple of times this year so we have got to clean up possession where we have that lead and we have the ball and the ball has to go inside so we can get a high percentage shot.”
For the game, USV shot 50 percent from the floor and 41 percent from 3-point land.
Conversely, Perry was 5 of 17 from behind the 3-point arc.
In addition to Sanders’ scoring in double digits, teammates Thompson and Lowery both pumped in 11 points. For Perry, Logan Dray, who hit five 3-pointers, finished with 17 points and Jamal Whiteside, who grabbed seven rebounds, added 11. Jackson, who came off the bench, provided 10 points and four rebounds.
Jose Nogueras can be reached at 567-242-0468.