Saxony Lutheran started the third quarter hot from the field when Maddox Murphy and Sydney Turner hit jump shots that stretched the Crusader lead to double digits and forced Perryville coach Angela Fulton to call a timeout.
She told her team during the break that the game could go either way, depending on how her team responded.
The Pirates responded well, but it still could not pull out the win. Saxony Lutheran edged Perryville 44-40 in the opening round of the Class 5, District 1 tournament on Saturday at Saxony High School. Despite the loss, it was the lowest margin of defeat for Perryville in a district tournament game in eight seasons. It was the first victory for Saxony in the Class 5 district tournament after being moved up from Class 3 this season.
“We were down 10 there and the game could have gotten away from us,” Futon said. “We don’t quit and that was awesome. They played their hearts out.”
After the timeout, the Pirates got hot from beyond the arc. Perryville senior Leah Buerck made a pair of threes and Ciara Ehlers made one of her own as the Pirates went on a 15-6 run to take the lead on a basket by Rachel Riney with 1:15 left in the third quarter. Tegan Bishop gave Perryville its biggest lead of the game at 30-27 with less than one minute to go.
“I knew a 10-point lead wasn’t going to be enough,” Saxony coach Lance Tollison said. “We did enough. We got some stops at the right times and rebounds at the right time.”
Saxony responded with a 6-0 run to take a 33-30 lead going into the final quarter.
Saxony Lutheran was led by Emma Dunning, who had 13 points, while Alice Hogendobler and Emma Voelker each had seven points. Perryville was led by Ehlers with 13 points while Kyla Schnurbusch had nine points. Riney, Buerck, and Bishop all had six points for Perryville as the starters scored every point for the Pirates in the game. Every one of the eight players who saw the floor for Saxony scored at least two points. Neither team shot well in the game as Perryville shot 27 percent from the field and 25 percent from three. Saxony made just 29 percent from the field and 17 percent from distance.
“We had to limit them to one shot,” Tollison said. “For the most part I thought we did that.”
But every time Perryville got close, Saxony had an answer.
Back-to-back baskets from Schnurbusch and Riney to get Perryville within a single point were answered by a basket by Murphy that stretched the lead to 39-34 with four minutes remaining. Schnurbusch hit a three to climb back within two pints. Saxony had a chance to salt the game away from the free throw line with 1:30 left, but Murphy missed a pair, opening the door for Perryville to tie.
Turner stepped up with a big defensive stop as she drew a charge.
From there, it became a free throw shooting contest of sorts. Saxony went 7-13 from the charity stripe in the final quarter, but 6-8 in the final 30 seconds to claim the victory. Anna Thomason, Murphy and Dunning all hit key free throws in the waning moments. Perryville went 3-4 in the final minute from the free throw line.
The game started even as the teams went into the second quarter tied at 8-8. Dunning hit a trio of three-pointers in the second quarter alone that gave Saxony its largest lead of the first half at 19-12 with 1:35 left in the second quarter. Ehlers gave Ehlers gave Perryville momentum into the half with a big triple with less than 20 seconds remaining as the Crusaders went into the break ahead 19-15.
Perryville will graduate four seniors in Buerck, Adreinne Weibrecht, Elizabeth Gremaud and Haley Fulmer. The four seniors have helped rejuvenate the girls program with 39 victories in the last three seasons and back-to-back JCAA large school conference titles.
“They are the oes that started in all in some ways,” Fulton said. “They are the players who helped put us on the map within the conference and they will be missed.”