PERRY TOWNSHIP – One of the best basketball rivalries that has developed over the past decade has been between Perry and Upper Scioto Valley.
In the past seven years, these two teams have either won outright or shared the Northwest Central Conference title and this year it appears that will be the case as the two teams face each other Friday with identical 3-0 marks in the NWCC. Granted, there is still plenty of basketball left on the schedule but the winner will likely have the inside track on another conference crown.
“Upper Scioto Valley is probably one of the best coached teams in the area,” Perry head coach Matt Tabler said. “Jeff Kloepfer does an excellent job. This has been a rivalry from the old Northwest Conference days until now over here in the Northwest Central Conference.
Win or lose, Tabler sees this as one step of an eight step process for his team.
“You can’t get to the next step without taking care of that step and this is just the fourth step of the process,” Tabler said. “It is a big step we understand, but you can’t win a championship, win or lose this but we just want to take care of this step because it would propel us to win a championship.”
Coming into the season, Perry was featuring a young squad and many might have thought this might have been a drop off year for the Commodores.
Two starters, senior Chazz Jackson, and sophomore Ryan Yingst, returned from last year’s 19-4 squad and two returning letter winners, sophomores Terry Riley and Will Knight, were also back. Needless to say a lot of young players would have to step up.
And that is exactly what has happened as the Commodores have gone 7-3 on the young season with two of those losses coming to state ranked Delphos St. John’s (9-0) and Shawnee (10-0).
“We were actually up one (against Delphos) with 30 seconds to go and got beat by five so if you are going to use that as a measuring stick even though the AP poll it is everybody’s opinion and who the best teams are our kids can compete with the best.”
Tabler, who’s club is coming off a thrilling one-point victory over Lima Central Catholic Saturday, said this team continues to get better despite its inexperience and added that their confidence has grown after opening the season with a 5-1 mark.
“I think what I am impressed with the most is our defensive effort night in and night out,” Tabler said. “I think kids work at it and they continually try to get better and when you win basketball games you just feed off that like we did against Lima Central Catholic.”
Tabler added that the win over the Thunderbirds showed the team is growing and were able to keep their composure down the stretch despite their inexperience.
Prior to the victory over LCC, the Commodores were coming off a 50-42 loss to Wapakoneta in which the team shot a paltry 28 percent from the floor and followed it up with what Tabler said as a bad week of practice. At the onset of the LCC game, it appeared they still were mired in that funk when they fell behind to the Thunderbirds, 20-8, before rallying in the second half.
“Our kids grew up a lot that night. They did not fold” Tabler said. “They kept playing possession, by possession by possession. We put in a nice little run between the second and third quarters and then we kind of gave up a lead and you are going to get that with a young team.”
Scoring that winning basket was Jeffrey Simpson, a junior who had seen little playing time last year, but was called on this year after Yingst went down with an injury against Ada Dec. 14. Yingst had started all 23 games last year for the Commodores.
Against LCC, Simpson went 6 for 6 from the floor including the game winner. He also had 10 rebounds.
“Losing him we lost an inside presence so we have had to change some things around and we continually preach to our kids to attack the basket. We feel like if we continually attack the basket there is no team that has our speed that we play on our schedule. But if we continue to attack the basket and have people respect that then we are going to get more outside shots that are open and if we can get to the paint our outside game will open up.”
Jackson leads the offensive charge for the Commodores, averaging 14 points a contest, however, Tabler said the play of point guard Bubby Knight, a sophomore, has been a welcome surprise.
“I think it all starts with our point guard play and Bubby is learning,” Tabler said. Bubby is just one who has to continue to be coach-able. He is going to receive the most criticism from me because he is our quarterback on the floor so it starts with him and he is pleasantly averaging 12 points a game.”
Tabler said Bubby Knight is one of a cast of players who have stepped up. Another Knight, Will, who was a part-time player, has also contributed valuable minutes this year and Tabler added that the sky is the limit for the sophomore.
Another sophomore who has produced is Terry Riley.
“Terry played a lot as a freshman last year and he was our main defender and he is our main defender this year so we look for him as well,” Tabler said.
In one of the most anticipated girls games of the year, Bath (13-1) will travel to Ottawa-Glandorf (9-1) in a key Western Buckeye League showdown Thursday.
Both teams are 3-0 in the Western Buckeye League and although the two teams have the majority of the league schedule still ahead for these two teams it will put the winner in the driver’s seat.
After Bath downed Ottoville Tuesday, Wildkitten head coach Greg Mauk said, “They’re good, they’re very good. It’s going to be one of those Western Buckeye League battles. It’s what happens year in and year out in our league. You’ve got two teams that are good ball clubs and we’ll see how it turns out.”
Bath comes into the game averaging 45.9 points a game and is giving up an average of 27.5 points a contest. Ottawa-Glandorf is putting up 55.6 points a game and allowing 33 points a contest.
Ottawa-Glandorf has won 31 consecutive WBL games and has not lost in the league since 2016.
The Titans beat bath 46-36 last year and two years ago, O-G took home the win with a 47-37 win.
Prior to the Titans’, it was Bath that went four years without suffering a WBL loss.