In a midseason Sandusky Bay Conference showdown that lived up to all the hype and then some, the Margaretta Lady Polar Bears had just enough scorers left on the floor than the Perkins Lady Pirates did for a 55-50 double overtime victory Tuesday night at Margaretta High School.
The win is the fifth straight for Margaretta, which improved to 6-3 overall and 5-1 in the SBC, while the loss snaps a seven-game winning streak for Perkins, who fell to 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the SBC. The Margaretta victory also forced a three-way tie atop the conference standings between the Lady Bears, Perkins and Clyde.
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"Our 1-3-1 zone gave them a little trouble and we did some good things," Margaretta head coach Tim Tucker said. "But we have to learn from this game. We made some mental mistakes and were out of position in the zone and man defense early.
"But it was a good game, we fought hard to come back and it seemed every time they got the lead late we'd come back with a basket of our own."
Perkins lost leading scorers Bethany Caudill and Stacey Grathwol to fouls, while Margaretta lost Jessica Meyer to the same fate. However, the Lady Bears still had Brittany Morris on the floor, which proved to be a key factor in the second overtime.
Trailing 24-17 late in the first half, the Lady Bears went on a 13-4 run to take a 30-28 lead with 4:18 left in the quarter and eventually took a six-point lead at 37-31 with 6:19 left in regulation, but this time it was Perkins' turn to come back.
Grathwol hit a 3-pointer before fouling out with 3:31 left, then Caudill came through with back-to-back 3-pointers, the second giving the Lady Pirates a 41-39 lead with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter.
Not to be denied, Shannon Coy rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Tiffany Tucker and put it back up to tie the game with 45.7 seconds left and neither team scored again to force overtime.
Margaretta scored the first two baskets of the first extra session to take a 45-41 lead, but Caudill again hit back-to-back 3-pointers to sandwich a Morris basket to tie the score at 47 with 59.7 seconds left in the extra quarter.
Perkins had one final shot to win it with 3.6 seconds left and Caudill inbounded to freshman Jordan Fraley, who went the length of the floor and got a shot off just inside the 3-point line that was on line, but rimmed just short to force a second overtime.
"I thought we could get Fraley a little closer than she got," Perkins head coach Ray Neill said. "But she came up just a foot short."
Tucker opened the scoring in the second overtime and Morris scored a basket and quickly Margaretta had opened up a 51-47 lead at the 2:24 mark. On the ensuing possession, Caudill lost control driving to the basket and lost the ball and in the process committed her fifth foul with 1:52 left and Morris hit both free throws for a 53-47 lead with 1:05 left.
Gabby Nasonti added a basket with 39.7 seconds left for a 55-47 lead and Fraley finally got Perkins on the board with 11.1 seconds left with three points the old-fashioned way, but in the end 5 of 16 free throw shooting sealed the Lady Pirates fate.
"We were shooting 77 percent from the foul line coming in and it's usually one of our strong points," Neill said. "And when you don't shoot well from the floor, you hope that free throw shooting can carry you in a big game, but obviously tonight it didn't. Hopefully we learn from it, and maybe we'll be a little calmer next time out."
Neill acknowledged the Margaretta switch to zone defense hurt his team.
"The 1-3-1 gave us some problems. It was a nice coaching move on their part," he said. "It didn't change the complete complexion of the game, but it made us work a lot harder than we had to in the first half."
Morris finished with 22 points on 10 of 13 shooting for Margaretta while Meyer added 16 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 1:08 left in the second overtime. For Perkins, Caudill finished with a game-high 23 points that included six 3-pointers, while both Fraley and Grathwol added nine points with Fraley grabbing eight rebounds.