PERRY – The Perry Pirates are an experienced team that has come together quickly with a new coaching staff.

The Orange Lions are an inexperienced group that is making strides along the way.

The Pirates used that experience Saturday night, jumping out to a 14-0 lead, and then finishing with a strong fourth quarter in putting away their pesky Chagrin Valley Conference foes, 66-54, at Spectator Gymnasium.

Coupled with last week’s win over Riverside , Perry coach Chad Frazier is happy with how his team has opened the season.

“I am most proud with the fact that every player on this team is attempting to do their role to the best of their ability,” he said. “They have embraced what we are trying to get done and are really coming together as a team.”

Juniors Joe Gutowski and Daniel Johnson had the hot hand in the opening quarter for the Pirates. Johnson had seven of his team-high 17 points in the period, while Gutowski had nine points including two 3-pointers.

Foul problems plagued the visitors throughout the game. Despite having three starters with two fouls and one starter with three fouls in the opening half, Orange battled back.

Behind an aggressive defense and the scoring of senior Dan Turner (22 points on 8 of 12 shooting), Orange knotted the score at 33 midway through the third quarter.

But a pair of 3-pointers by Kevin Siegel (6 points, 6 assists, 4 steals) and Gutowski on back-to-back possessions led to an 11-5 Perry spurt to end the quarter.

Orange would get the score as close as 48-45 with five minutes remaining in the game. But Perry made Orange pay for the 30 fouls it committed in the game. The Pirates knocked down 10-of-15 foul shots down the stretch to pull away. Junior Patrick Byrne made five of those free throws, while Johnson went three of four from the line during that stretch.

“I have a lot of confidence in our guys as free throw shooters,” Frazier said of his team that made 23 of 34 from the line for the game. “We have a lot of shooters who stepped up and knocked them down tonight.”

Frazier also singled out the play of Byrne, who had a steady floor game with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.

“He does everything to the best of his ability,” he said about his 6-foot-2 guard. “Patrick had seven rebounds the other night against Riverside. He is just a coach’s dream.

“He hit his head hard on the floor the first play of the game tonight. I know his head was hurting him a bit, but he fought through it. He did it for the team. That is what I love about him.”

“We dug ourselves a hole tonight in that first quarter,” he said. “The deficit, coupled with the fact that they (Perry) are a very good team that is well-coached, I knew it would be tough.”

Negin is a freelance writer from Madison.

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