PERRY TOWNSHIP — To say that Perry had a sluggish start in Friday’s key Northwest Central Conference boys basketball showdown against visiting Ridgemont, would be an understatement.
The Commodores did not get on the scoreboard until the final minute of the first quarter.
Perry came fighting back, and forced two overtimes before pulling away for a hard-fought 79-65 victory against Ridgemont at Leonard V. Volbert Gymnasium.
With the win, Perry improves to 10-4 overall and 6-0 in the NWCC. Ridgemont slips to 9-5 overall and 3-2 in conference play.
Chazz Jackson led Perry with 24 points, including 8 of 10 shooting from the free throw line. Brayden Knight poured in 21 points, including three 3-pointers. Terry Riley added 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Will Knight had 11 points and four steals for the Commodores.
“This basketball team works hard and will not give up,” Perry coach Matt Tabler said. “That’s the kind of attitude that they have. We could have folded at any point, but we just kept fighting and fighting. I just can’t give our guys enough credit in just the way they played to the final buzzer. And these kids just keep getting better, day by day.”
Landon Newland led Ridgemont and all scorers with 26 points, including 7 of 8 shooting from the charity stripe. Jayden Streets scored 14 points, including three 3-pointers. Mason Stuck had 13 points with two shots behind the arc.
Ridgemont opened the game with a 12-0 run. Newland hit a field goal and a 3-pointer to jump-start the Golden Gophers.
Perry had five turnovers in the first 3 ½ minutes of the contest. By the end of the first quarter the Commodores had turned it over a total of nine times.
Brayden Knight scored Perry’s first points of the contest – a field goal with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Golden Gophers led 14-4 at the first stop.
Perry was just 2 of 15 shooting from the field in the first eight minutes.
Brayden Knight kept the Commodores in the hunt the rest of the first half. The 5-foot, 9-inch sophomore nailed three 3-pointers. He scored 11 points in the second quarter and ended the half with 15.
Perry cut it to 6, 20-14 with 4:30 left in the first half, on a 3-pointer by Brayden Knight.
However, Ridgemont responded.
By the halftime break, Ridgemont led 28-19.
Brayden Knight hit a near half-court shot at the buzzer to cut it to the nine-point deficit.
Stuck led the Golden Gophers in the first half with nine points.
In the third quarter, the Golden Gophers got hot from the outside. Streets hit twice behind the arc in the first three minutes of the second half to help give Ridgemont a 36-25 lead.
With 3:26 left to play in the third quarter, Jackson scored inside to cut it to 36-30.
Jackson gave Perry its first lead on the night, 42-41, on a 15-footer, just seconds before the end of the third quarter. The Commodores outscored the Golden Gophers in the third period, 23-13. Perry was 10 of 14 from the floor in the third.
Perry’s defensive pressure helped cause eight third-quarter Ridgemont turnovers.
The Golden Gophers were able to answer Perry’s spurts.
With 34.7 seconds left to play in regulation, Newland hit a shot and was fouled. Newland completed the old-fashion 3-point play to knot the game at 60.
Perry had the ball.
After the inbounds pass, Brayden Knight drove the length of the floor and missed a highly-contested layup.
Then, with less than 20 seconds left to go, the Golden Gophers had the basketball.
A 3-point attempt by Austin Elsasser at the buzzer fell short, and the game went into the first overtime.
The Golden Gophers grabbed the lead in the extra session. However, Perry battled back and knotted the game at 65, on an inside shot by Jeffrey Simpson (three points, six rebounds).
The game went into the second overtime session.
In the next OT, Perry pulled away for the victory. There were nine lead changes in the final nine minutes of the game.
“I just can’t give our kids enough credit,” Tabler said. “This is what it’s all about. You want to come to a game, and fight and scratch to win.”
On the night, Perry shot 49 percent from the field. Ridgemont connected on 36 percent of its field goal attempts.
Perry committed 18 turnovers, while Ridgemont turned it over 17 times.
“They are a very good basketball team,” Tabler said about Ridgemont. “It’s unfortunate that someone had to lose. I just think our guys willed themselves to win this game. I just can’t give them enough credit.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.