BBC TITLE BOUT … Levi Barnum gets the ball inside for Stryker on Friday night. (PHOTO BY JACOB KESSLER, STAFF)
By: Daniel Cooley
PETTISVILLE – Trailing 30-28 with 2.4 seconds left, Stryker needed a miracle and ended up getting it. Taking the ball out from under the Pettisville basket, the Panthers successfully got the ball across half court and called a time out with 2.1 seconds remaining.
Then, Jacob Cadwell caught the inbounds pass and fired up a three-point shot just before the buzzer and banked it in, giving Stryker the improbable 31-30 win over Pettisville and sending the Stryker players and their fans into a frenzy.
The final score was the only time Stryker had the lead in the entire game and it is the Panthers’ first Buckeye Border Conference title since the 2018-19 season.
That year, Stryker shared the conference crown with Pettisville, as both teams finished 11-1 in the BBC. Pettisville last won a BBC title during the 20-21 season, with a 10-2 conference mark.
Both teams came into the game tied for first place in the BBC at 6-0, in the final conference game of the season. Thus, it was a winner take all contest.
“First, on the inbounds play, we were just trying to get the ball in and then find someone who could put up a shot,” Cadwell said.
“They found me. The shot felt good leaving my hands, I was hoping it would go in and I was able to hit the shot.”
Cadwell was not the first option on the inbounds play.
“He was our third option, but Cadwell caught the pass, had enough time to take one dribble, take the shot and put it in,” said Stryker coach Tyler Woolace. “Now I can go celebrate with my team.”
Stryker had rallied to tie the game at 26-26, on Cadwell’s eight-foot jumper with one minute left.
Pettisville then took a 30-26 lead on four points from Jacoby with 17.4 seconds left, on Jacoby’s putback and two free throws.
Stryker’s Michael Donovan then hit two of three charity tosses after he was fouled on a three point attempt, with 8.3 seconds left. That cut Pettisville’s lead to 30-28.
Pettisville then missed the front end of two one and one free throw chances, the final one with three seconds left, to give Stryker one last chance.
On the second missed free throw, Stryker’s Levi Barnum snared the rebound and Stryker called a time out with 2.4 seconds left, setting up the dramatic finish.
Cadwell’s three-point shot was only the second triple that Stryker had taken the whole game.
“That’s the second time we’ve lost a game on a three-pointer at the buzzer this year,” said Pettisville coach Brian Leppelmeier.
“Bryan beat us the same way, by one point, early in the year. This time, a banked in three is a tough way to lose, but we missed two front ends of free throws, and you can’t give a good team like Stryker that many opportunities.”
“But I was proud of our kids, they executed our defensive game plan against Stryker very well.”
“Offensively, we just had too many turnovers and missed three throws that gave Stryker too many opportunities.”
Pettisville’s 6-9 center Cayden Jacoby led the Blackbirds with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Stryker’s big man, 6-6 center Elijah Juillard, paced Stryker with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“Juillard was a difference maker,” Woolace said. “He made some big shots for us and was very solid defensively, against Jacoby. Jacoby got his points, but he had to earn every single one of them.”
The entire ball game was played at a slow and deliberate pace, for both teams. Each team took their time working the ball around, until they found a good open shot, usually from 15 feet or less.
Pettisville led the low scoring affair by 8-4 after one quarter and 13-10 at halftime. Pettisville’s biggest lead was at eight points, 18-10, early in the third quarter.
The game was tied at 10-10 before Pettisville went on an 8-0 run. Jaret Beck hit a three-pointer to put Pettisville up 13-10 at halftime.
He then hit another trey to start the third quarter, while Jacoby hit a short jumper to give the Blackbirds the eight-point advantage.
Stryker whittled away at the lead though, cutting the Pettisville lead to 21-18 after three periods, on Daniel Donovan’s short jumper.
Pettisville took control again to start the third quarter, getting two buckets from Jacoby and a free throw from Sean Adkins to take a 26-20 lead.
But Stryker tallied the next six points to tie the game at 26-26, on two Juillard layups and Cadwell’s short jumper.
Stryker wins the BBC title at 7-0 and improves to 12-9 overall with the road win. Pettisville finishes the BBC with a 6-1 mark and now stands at 13-7 overall.
STRYKER (31) – Juillard 12; Villanueva 0; LaBo 0; M. Donovan 2; Cadwell 7; D. Donovan 4; Barnum 6; Totals: 14-2-31
PETTISVILLE (30) – Leppelmeier 0; Ripke 3; Aeschliman 0; Adkins 1; Beck 6; Jacoby 20; Totals: 9-2-6 – 30
THREE POINT GOALS: Stryker – Cadwell; Pettisville – Beck 2; REBOUNDS: Stryker – 19 (Juillard 9); Pettisville – 24 (Jacoby 12); TURNOVERS: Stryker – 8; Pettisville – 12
STRYKER 4 6 8 13 – 31
PETTISVILLE 8 5 8 9 – 30
JUNIOR VARSITY: Pettisville, 33-30
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org