Perry boys basketball coach Al Iacofano wants his Pirates to take control of games in their man-to-man defense.

During a three-minute span at the end of the first half, the Pirates did just that and rolled to a 56-40 victory over Edgewood at Spectator Gymnasium on Friday night.

Perry (1-0) used it’s defense to go on a 15-2 run over the final 2:55 of the second quarter to take a 33-18 lead into the half.

“That was huge,” Iacofano said. “That definitely allowed us to carry momentum into the half. Up until that point, it was a close game. That helped us build confidence and build that momentum into the half.”

“Their man-to-man defense is very good,” Edgewood coach John Bowler said. “We just didn’t handle their man-to-man pressure very well.

“Their man-to-man defense is very good for their offense. They’d make us turn it over and then we didn’t get back on defense. We’ve got to get that together. It’s going to take us time. We’re still trying to get all the pieces and parts together. We’re also still trying to a run a couple offenses that aren’t quite ready yet. It’s still early.”

Anthony Keipert scored seven of his 19 points, including a jumper at the buzzer,  in the final three minutes of the half for the Pirates.

“That’s huge,” Iacofano said. “He’s our leader without a doubt. He’s very experienced — this is his third year with the varsity. It’s good when you’re point guard is a quiet scorer. That tells me he was very efficient.”

The Warriors turned the ball over 14 times in the first half while Perry gave the ball away just four times.

“We pride ourselves on our man-to-man defense,” Iacofano said. “The kids have bought in. Our guys did a great job face-guarding Connor (McLaughlin). He’s a great basketball player. We know he makes Edgewood tick. We know if we can slow him down, we’ll be OK. And it wasn’t just one guy on him. We used a bunch of guys on him to keep fresh legs out there.”

“Give (the Pirates) a lot of credit,” Bowler said. “They hustled like crazy. There’s no doubt they outhustled us tonight.”

McLaughlin finished with 14 points and 11 boards, but did half of that scoring damage from the free-throw line late in the game. Eli Kalil led the Warriors with 17 points.

“They were face-guarding Connor and that hurt us a little bit,” Bowler said. “He gets frustrated when that happens. We still need to play through that and not let it bother us.”

The Pirates held onto that 16-point advantage they took into the break throughout the second half. In fact, the teams traded buckets throughout the final 16 minutes.

Perry used an 8-0 spurt that lasted about three minutes late in the first period to go up, 12-5, with 1:42 to play in the quarter. Kalil cut that deficit to four, 12-8, with a layup and a free throw, to close out the period.

Mike Walker netted 10 points and Luke Farrell added nine points for Perry.    

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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