By DAVE HANNEMAN
Findlay and Perrysburg don’t play each other during the regular season.
But the Trojans and Yellow Jackets will renew a long-running tournament rivalry when they clash Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Division I district semifinals at Otsego High School.
“We haven’t played Perrysburg but we’re pretty familiar with them (because) we’ve played them a lot in tournament,” FHS coach Jim Rucki said as he put the Trojans through their paces on Tuesday.
“You know what you’re getting into with them … and they’re good at doing it.”
Since the current sectional/district bracketing format was set up following the 2000-2001 regular season, Findlay and Perrysburg have squared off eight times in post-season play. They’ve split those eight games 4-4, which isn’t surprising for two programs that embrace similar philosophies.
“The thing about Perrysburg is they do a nice job with their program,” Rucki said.
“They’re organized, they run good stuff offensively, they play hard defensively, they’re active and they make it tough on you.”
Opposing coaches say many of the same things about Findlay.
“They are a lot like us, I think,” Rucki said. “Offensively we run some pretty decent things, we try to get the ball where we want to get it, and they definitely do that, too.”
Findlay, the No. 2-seeded team in the Otsego Sectional, defeated Lima Senior 64-46 on Feb. 28 and enters Thursday game with a 17-5 record. Top-seeded Perrysburg beat Northern Lakes League rival Anthony Wayne 53-41 in its sectional final and is 20-3.
A veteran team with seven seniors on the roster, Perrysburg is led by Nick Moschetti, a 6-foot-4 guard who scored a school-record 43 points in an 85-47 win over Sylvania Southview and leads the team in scoring (22.6 ppg), rebounding (6.7 rpg) and assists (5.1 apg).
“He was a great 3-point shooter last year. Now he’s bigger and stronger and he’s expanded his game,” Rucki said.
“He’s good at getting into the lane and when he gets inside he’s really good around the basket. He can still shoot the three but he’s also better at creating offense, posting up and getting to the line.
“He’s a really good all-around offensive player.”
Nate Patterson, a 6-4 senior who was recruited to play tight end for Miami (Ohio), averages 12.6 points and 5 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets. Matt Kaczinski, a 6-4 senior forward, averages just under 10 points and 5 rebounds a game, with 5-9 guards Quinn Thomas (7.7 ppg, 5.1 apg) and Matt Mesker (5.2 ppg) round out the starting lineup.
Another 5-9 guard, sophomore Trevor Hafner, also sees plenty of playing time, and Perrysburg has additional size to help inside in 6-5 junior Zach Schrock and 6-6 senior Luke Adams.
Findlay has faced mostly man-to-man pressure this season. But it’s on defense where Perrysburg might throw a wrinkle at the Trojans.
“They play a different defense than you see most times, a match-up zone,” Rucki said.
“They’ll apply a lot of pressure out high and mix things up, depending on what you’re trying to do offensively.”
Findlay will match Perrysburg’s experience with a veteran lineup of its own.
Seniors Adam Twining (15.6 ppg, 6 rpg, 3.1 apg), Austin Gutting (12.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Michael Clark (9.4 ppg, 4.7 apg) and Braden Miller (4.8 ppg, a team-high 43 steals) were all returning starters from last year’s 15-9 team. Seniors Duke Gobrecht (2.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg) and Nick Kairys (0.6 ppg) also returned with varsity experience.
Grant Niswander, a junior, filled the vacant starting spot and has averaged 6.5 points and 4 rebounds while coming up with 35 steals. Sophomore Grant McKinniss has also given Findlay a spark off the bench, making 35 percent of his 3-point attempts (17 of 48) and averaging 4.3 points a game.
The same time Findlay and Perrysburg hit the floor at Otsego, Mansfield Senior (16-7) and Ashland (12-11) will be tipping it off at Galion. Thursday’s winners will meet in a 7 p.m. district final on Saturday at Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center.
In the one-and-done reality of tournament basketball, though, that’s like an eternity away.
“All we’re focusing on right now is one game,” Rucki said.
“That’s our goal, our focus, to win one more game. If you can do that, then you can start worrying about what comes after that.”
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