Leopards Tame Lions to Force Tie Atop NBC – Boys Basketball
Louisville 52, Minerva 38
In a battle for first place in the NBC, the Louisville Leopards Boys Varsity Basketball Team downed the host Minerva Lions 52-38 at MHS Friday Night. With the victory, Louisville improves to 5-4 overall and is now tied for first place at 4-1 in conference play.
The Leopards led the entire way in pouncing on the Lions right from the start. Louisville took an 11-2 lead to open the game and never looked back. Minerva rebounded a miss on the Leopards first possession, but Louisville’s Brody Hahn immediately stole the ball back. He passed the ball to Libertore who cashed in an NBC range three-pointer from the tail of the half-court Lion decal.
After surrendering a Minerva basket, Louisville answered back when Zeller blindly scored in the key to make it 5-2. The ensuing Lions in-bound pass sailed out of play giving the Leopards the ball back immediately. Just seconds after that, Hahn hit home a triple in the left corner to put Louisville up 8-2 and forcing Minerva to burn a timeout.
The Lions moved the ball around on their next possession, but again turned the ball over out of bounds. The Leopards did not take long in making them pay as Wahl buried a three from the right corner to put Louisville ahead 11-2.
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Near the end of a foul-filled first quarter, Minerva had cut the deficit to 17-13 and had the ball. But the explosive Leopards would not be denied. Hahn and Zeller stormed in for the block on a layup attempt and Bryce Zuppe retrieved the loose ball for Louisville. Zuppe passed the ball ahead to Libertore who absurdly threw in a shot from the key while being fouled. Liberator’s bonus free throw make was followed by a steal and score by Max Hartline that pushed the Leopard lead back out to 22-13.
Minerva cut into that lead, but Louisville expanded it to double digits when Zeller hit a three-pointer at the two minute mark of the first half making it 31-21. The Leopards would eventually take a 33-26 lead into the break.
A little over a minute into the second half, the Lions Brock Croston hit the front of the rim on a shot. The ball stunningly took a Minerva bounced and found its mark making it 35-30 Louisville. However, the kind ricochet would be the final good omen for the Lions as they failed to score again from the field over the course of the next 9:46. Jack Hanley hit his second three-pointer of the evening for the Lions at the 5:05 mark of the fourth quarter to break the drought at 43-34.
Minerva would get no closer as Libertore dropped in a field goal after pulling down an offensive board and Wahl scored on a breakaway lay-in to make it 47-34. With the comfortable lead, Louisville ran some time off the clock and made free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
The Lions were led by Connor Wright who scored a game-high 13 points. Adam Gross and Hanley also added 8 a piece. Minerva is now 7-3 overall with a 4-1 record in league play.
With the win, the Leopards have now defeated the Lions in 14 of their past 15 meetings including the last 4 games in this rivalry played at Minerva. Louisville now leads the all-time head-to-head series 89-68.
UP NEXT: The Leopards will next host the Canton South Wildcats on Tuesday, January 10. JV will begin at 6:00 PM and Varsity will follow around 7:30 PM.