Cardiac Cats Earn Their Spots at Alliance
Louisville 78, Alliance 74, OT
The Louisville Leopards earned a thrilling 78-74 overtime victory against the host Alliance Aviators Tuesday Evening at Harry Fails Gymnasium. With the win, Louisville improves to 9-2 overall and remains a perfect 6-0 in the NBC.
Drew Noble did it all for the Leopards as he finished with game-highs of 25 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Jake Pukys also dropped in 14 points and had 4 steals, Chris Libertore scored 12 points, and Blake Hoover had 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists for Louisville.
The two squads went back-and-forth all night long. The Aviators outscored the Leopards by a single point in each of the first three quarters to take a 53-50 lead into the fourth quarter.
Louisville rallied back to take a 57-56 advantage midway through the fourth. However, Marlon Blue and Aeyron Williams hit back-to-back three-pointers for Alliance to give the Aviators a 61-57 lead a half minute later.
The Leopards chipped back into the deficit as Noble scored the next three Louisville baskets to make it 65-63 Alliance. The Leopards fouled after that and the Aviators Queshawn Martin hit only the front end of a pair of free throws.
That left the door open for the most important shot of the game. Louisville worked the ball around and found Mr. Clutch Joe Crank who buried the game-tying three-pointer from the top of the key with 22.4 seconds remaining. Then on the ensuing Alliance possession, Noble and Brody Hahn closed in to bat away a potential game-winning shot. This sent the game into overtime tied at 66-all.
The Aviators struck first in the extra period when Blue forced a steal that led to a DJ Hancock lay-in. However, it was all Leopards after that as they scored 12 of the next 15 points. Noble drove to the hole for a bucket while being fouled. A few possessions later, Pukys found a lane to dribble through and drove to the hole with authority. After that, Pukys intercepted an Alliance pass and hit Crank down court for a fast break score to ice the game. Then in similar fashion, Libertore scored after catching a long pass from Noble to put the nail in the coffin making it 78-71 Leopards with just seconds remaining.
Blue would hit a buzzer-beater at the end of overtime to give him 13 points for the contest. Amazingly, six different Alliance players reached double figures led by Sarrick Sampson who dropped in 14. Williams also dumped in 13 for the Aviators.
Louisville is now 3-0 in overtime games this season. The win for the Leopards snaps a 6-game losing streak against the Aviators. The last time LHS won in the series was by a 63-45 count back on March 2, 2011 in the DII Canton Sectional Semifinals at the Field House. The last time Louisville won at Alliance was on December 22, 2009 by the score of 70-64, which was the last year the Leopards won the NBC.
UP NEXT: The Leopards will next host the Marlington Dukes on Friday, January 16. JV will begin at 6:00 PM and Varsity will follow at 7:30 PM.
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