As the area's conference landscape approaches an evolution, Calvert coach Ted Willman has seen his players go through evolutions of their own.
Take senior Austin Perry. As the season has gone on, Willman said the post player has been asked to shoulder more of the rebounding.
He sure did Friday night.
Calvert’s Austin Ball shoots over Lakota’s Dakota Bowling during Friday’s game in Tiffin.
Perry scored only three points, but grabbed 17 rebounds as Calvert pushed past an upset-minded Lakota squad in the final Midland Athletic League contest for both teams.
The Senecas defeated the Raiders, 50-43.
"The last few games he's played down the stretch, that's kind of been his role," Willman said. "The roles of these kids - because we changed the lineup two weeks ago - has kind of evolved. So, Austin Perry, it's like 'you've got to be a rebounder.'"
Perry's play up front was key in a game that see-sawed several times.
Calvert came out cold, missing its first 11 shots from the floor, and not scoring until Michael Bennett's layup with 3:23 left in the first quarter. Lakota opened up an 11-4 advantage after a pair of Josh Kirkpatrick free throws, but the Senecas closed the quarter on an 8-0 run.
Calvert got some momentum at the end of the half, when Drew Ritzler - who scored a game-high 18 - drained a 3 from the right corner with three seconds left. The Senecas appeared to carry that momentum into the third quarter, grabbing a 32-24 lead when Ritzler made a layup with 1:46 left.
But then, the Senecas offense stalled, and Lakota got going.
It started with Hunter Chalfin hitting back-to-back 3s, sending Lakota to the fourth quarter down just 34-32.
Lakota kept the run going when Casey Monroe made a free throw, then took the lead when Colin Timmons hit a jumper. Another Timmons basket made it 37-34 with 4:40 left.
"At the varsity level, it's a game of spurts," Lakota coach Tim Walsh said. "One team blitzes the other, then you respond to that and you blitz back, or you end up getting blown out. Our kids now are understanding that it's a game of blitzes, and we need to make our blitz back at them, which I think we did."
Calvert came back with baskets from Mike Bennett and Ritzler to take a 38-37 edge, then increased the advantage to three when Austin Ball made a pair of free throws with 3:16 left.
A Kirkpatrick layup cut the deficit to 40-39 with 2:50 to go. The score was still 40-39 with less than two minutes left, and it was the Raiders' ball. But Lakota appeared to rush - and miss - a shot on its possession. Calvert got the rebound, and Bennett was fouled on a basket. His free throw made it 43-39 with 1:38 left.
It was the game's biggest play.
"I really wanted to take a really good shot; we could have afforded to take more time before shooting that shot, but high school kids, sometimes they get anxious," Walsh said of Lakota's possession.
Timmons led Lakota's offense with 16 points, adding eight rebounds. Kirkpatrick had 10 points and Kevin Crowe came off the bench for 11 rebounds.
Walsh said Timmons was key in keeping Lakota in it.
"Without him, it wouldn't have been a close game," Walsh said.
Ball had 11 points for Calvert; Bennett had 10.
Calvert improved to 8-13, 6-4 in the MAL. Willman said the Senecas showed they still have plenty to work on before they play Vanlue Wednesday in the Division IV sectional semifinals
"The outcome was good, but the overall performance was not real good," he said. "You're excited that your seniors win their last home game."
Lakota (7-14, 1-9) will play Elmwood at Fostoria Tuesday in the Division III sectional semis.