By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
PERRY TOWNSHIP —
What a difference a day makes.
The Jefferson Falcons opened their boys basketball season Friday night with a lopsided loss at the hands of a talented Cornerstone Christian team in the Perry Tipoff Tournament. The Perry Pirates battled tooth and nail to the wire against the Wickliffe, but couldn’t hit clutch shots late in the game in falling in a nail-biter.
Both teams changed their fortunes in a Saturday afternoon consolation battle at Spectator Gymnasium before the Pirates hit some key baskets late in the game and stifled the Falcon offense at the same time 57-49 overtime victory.
“We had much better ball movement late in the game today,” Perry coach Al Iacofano said. “We also had a good turnaround from our game last night. Toward the end of the game and in the overtime, we took much better care of the ball and made some quality shots when we had to.
“First-half turnovers killed us last night against Wickliffe and we did a much better job taking care of the ball today.”
The Pirates (1-1) suffered through a 16-turnover effort in the first half Friday, but limited their miscues to just 19 for the entire game Saturday. Another factor that was important came in keeping Cale Burdyshaw on the court for longer periods of time.
He battled turnovers and early foul problems in the loss to Wickliffe, but stayed on the floor and responded with a monster second-half effort while leading the Pirates from a 21-19 halftime deficit that reached 29-25 midway through the third period to an 8-2 run to close out the third stanza.
From there, the teams battled back and forth to a 46-46 tie after regulation time.
Burdyshaw scored 12 of his 16 points in that second half and snared 13 of his 15 rebounds after the intermission.
With scoring help from Ian Illig, who tallied seven of his 13 points in the second half, and six each from Ryan Zaletel and Zach Buescher, Perry stayed within range with the Falcons, who at one point in the second quarter used a 10-0 run to open a 16-9 lead.
“Toward the end of the game today, we did a much better job of finishing our efforts,” Iacofano said. “We took much better care of the ball. Cale got some good looks at the basket and was able to stay on the floor more, which is a key for us, but at the same time, you have to credit Jefferson for a much better game than they played Friday night. Coach Huber is doing a good job with them and they will be a good team later in the season.”
The run was fueled by consecutive 3-pointers from Troy Bloom on passes from Steven Houser.
“We struggled at the end of the game offensively,” Jefferson coach Jeremy Huber said. “We didn’t get the offense we needed and we lost the game on the glass as well. I think Burdyshaw had a huge game.
“We had Justin Butler on him most of the time, and Justin did a superb job guarding him. When Justin got into foul trouble, we needed to adjust and we didn’t do it quick enough.”
Burdyshaw’s big second half proved Huber’s point, but the Falcons had a lot of positives, too.
“I’m glad we have some depth to work with on this team,” Huber said. “All the kids we bring into the game are competitive and that can only mean good things later on.”
Jefferson got 12 points each from Bloom and David Chase and 10 off the bench from Jacob Adams.
The Falcons (0-2) just didn’t get the ball into the basket enough after fighting off a late Pirate charge that tied the game at 42-42 and then again at 46-46.
After the first tie, an Adams putback and a pair of free throws on a three-point effort gave the Falcons a brief 46-42 edge with 3:31 left to play. But several late turnovers prevented them from scoring again in regulation and Perry tallied the first seven points of the extra session to settle the issue.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.