ST. JOSEPH — No one could consider placing Tuesday’s nonconference boys’ basketball game between Paxton-Buckley-Loda and St. Joseph-Ogden in any sort of offense-based hall of fame.
Each team committing 19 turnovers, and the winning side narrowly surpassing 50 points assured that.
The thing is, coach Adam Schonauer’s Panthers don’t mind playing — or winning — in that fashion.
And PBL used a stifling defensive effort over the final three quarters to snag a signature victory over the Spartans, 51-42 on the road.
“Our top guys just needed to fly around, hang around with (SJ-O’s) three-point shooters — because you know they can shoot deep from three,” Panthers senior Colton Coy said. “So we just needed to fly around, stop the three and just rebound.”
After permitting a pair of triples to Spartan sharpshooter Chance Izard in the first eight minutes, PBL (13-2) allowed just one conversion from distance the rest of the evening.
That turned a 16-13 lead for the Spartans (10-5) into a struggle to establish any sort of offensive tempo.
“They’re really good in their zone, and they plug gaps,” SJ-O boss Kiel Duval said of the Panthers. “They’re really good at closing out to shooters, too, so when you think you’ve got an open shot they’re right there on you.”
PBL didn’t have much more luck finding the bottom of the baskets. At least not from its season-leading source.
Trey VanWinkle has exceeded 30 points in a game as a senior. But Payton Cain, the Spartans’ defensive stalwart, blanketed VanWinkle before fouling out with about two minutes remaining in regulation.
VanWinkle finished with nine points, and the Panthers matched their foe with 19 turnovers committed.
“We have guys that I trust to make plays and score the basketball,” Schonauer said. “We’ve relied on Trey a little bit toward the beginning of the year, but other guys are finally starting to find their rhythm out there.”
Coy was chief among them Tuesday.
The 6-foot-4 forward was whistled for two early offensive fouls, yet continued bodying into the paint and wound up with a contest-best 14 points.
“I can put an impact on our team. When my teammates need me, I’ll step up,” Coy said. “They defended Trey pretty well, but Coach Scho said, ‘Next man up, step up,’ and we made plays.”
Guards Drake Schrodt (seven points), Gavin Coplea (four points) and Sam Penicook (seven points) also produced timely makes while post presences Dalton Busboom (6-of-8 free-throw shooting) and Alex Rueck (four points) kept SJ-O honest when Coy wasn’t down low.
The big story, however, was PBL gumming up the Spartans’ attack.
Izard grinded to 14 points for SJ-O, while 6-4 freshman Ty Pence was held to six points.
Outside of eight-minute surges from Cain (six points in the third period) and Drew Coursey (seven points in the second quarter), not much went right for the Spartans when they handled the ball.
“If you don’t stick with the stuff we’re trying to do, that’s when you turn the ball over. And I thought we turned the ball over way too much,” Duval said. “We’re trying to get to the middle, and it seemed like when we cut to the middle we weren’t there when we needed to be there, and when we got it there we just missed some open bunnies.”
Tuesday’s 42 points marked SJ-O’s third-lowest scoring total of this campaign. That’s not a concept foreign to the Panthers, who are the lone group thus far to keep Class 2A No. 10 Tuscola under 50 points.
“We can turn some teams over and speed some teams up,” Schonauer said. “But, against good basketball teams, you have to just play as hard as you can and trust your rotations because they’re going to make shots.”
PBL suffered prior defeats at the hands of 15-0 Tuscola and 15-4 Prairie Central, but the Panthers’ latest result arguably is their best win of the season alongside a previous triumph versus 14-3 Ridgeview during the Monticello Holiday Hoopla.
“This was a big one for us,” Schonauer said. “We needed to get a win like this, just for our guys’ confidence.”