VERMILION — Experience is one thing that can’t be taught.
With that in mind, Vermilion’s veteran savvy played a huge role in Thursday’s 65-60 win over Oak Harbor in Sandusky Bay Conference play.
The Sailors used 10 unanswered points early in the game and held off every Oak Harbor rally to maintain the lead and eventually earn the victory. Vermilion improved to 5-1, 3-0 in the SBC. Oak Harbor fell to 4-2, 3-1.
“I thought we played a good basketball game,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said. “That’s a really good basketball team over there. Their size bothered us a bit. Both big kids inside were real active and athletic. We had a hard time keeping them off the boards.”
Those two big kids — seniors Tate Smith (6-foot-5) and Aric McAtee (6-3) — combined for 27 points and 19 rebounds but Vermilion had enough firepower to pull through.
It doesn’t matter who scores for the Sailors. They’re all capable. Thursday it was junior Mason Montgomery and senior Joby Pfeil leading the way. They each scored 20 points and combined to grab 10 rebounds. Jonah Pfeil scored eight points and Luke Pena grabbed eight rebounds.
“Offensive rebounds and second chances were crucial,” said Montgomery, who had a huge offensive rebound on a Jonah Pfeil free throw miss. “We got that extra rebound, then we were able to work it around to get that open look for the layup.”
That sequence put Vermilion up 62-56 with a minute left in the game.
“We have a lot of guys on the team that can score the basketball,” Habermehl said. “That’s a big benefit to us. (Thursday) it was Joby and Mason who scored most of the points. We still have other guys who’ve led us in scoring. We’re a tough team to stop because of that.”
“We got down 19-5 early,” Oak Harbor coach Eric Sweet said. “We burned a couple timeouts early and we kept fighting. We never could get over the hump. We had some shots that we needed to make but were unable to make them.”
It was just the opposite for the Sailors.
“Every time we needed that big stop and that big rebound, we were able to get it,” Habermehl said.
“We come in every game having that mindset of playing great defense,” Joby Pfeil said. “When the game’s close and it’s on the line, defense wins games. You really have to lock up on defense and that’s what we did.”
The Rockets whittled that early deficit to 19-13 early in the second quarter. They then battled back from a 30-18 deficit to within 30-25 just before halftime.
Oak Harbor trailed by 37-27 and 41-31 in the third quarter but had it down to 48-41 going into the final quarter and twice had the lead down to just three (55-52 and 59-56) in the fourth but couldn’t get the Sailors to panic.
“I thought my kids did a great job of responding,” Habermehl said. “They didn’t let the moment of the game get to them too much. They made the right decisions at the end.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Vermilion 65, Oak Harbor 60
OAK HARBOR (60): Jac Alexander 7-0-14, Alex Gezo 3-0-6, Clay Schulte 2-0-5, Aric McAtee 4-1-10, Tate Smith 6-5-17, Conner Hoy 1-0-2, Jacob Lewis 2-2-6, Hunter Wilkins 0-0-0, Clark Rutledge 0-0-0. Totals 25-8-60.
VERMILION (65): Seth Hurd 1-2-4, Mason Montgomery 8-0-20, Luke Pena 2-1-5, Joby Pfeil 7-4-20, Jonah Pfeil 3-2-8, Ethan Habermehl 2-0-4, Reese Miller 1-0-2, Eli Balek 1-0-2. Totals 25-9-65.
Oak Harbor 11 14 16 19 — 60
Vermilion 19 14 15 17 — 65
Three-point goals: Oak Harbor 2-9 (Schulte, McAtee), Vermilion 6-17 (Montgomery 4, Joby Pfeil 2). Field goals: Oak Harbor 25-50 (50 percent), Vermilion 25-54 (46 percent). Free throws: Oak Harbor 8-13 (61.5 percent), Vermilion 9-15 (60 percent). Rebounds: Oak Harbor 32 (Smith 10), Vermilion 30 (Pena 8). Turnovers: Oak Harbor 11, Vermilion 7. Fouls: Oak Harbor 17, Vermilion 15.
Junior varsity: Oak Harbor, 41-37