Leopards Battle Past Warriors to Clinch NBC Outright 55-52 – Boys Basketball
Louisville 55, West Branch 52
The Louisville Leopards Boys Varsity Basketball Team battled past the visiting West Branch Warriors 55-52 to clinch the NBC Outright. With the victory, Louisville improves to 15-5 overall and 11-2 in the NBC.
Brandon Wahl hit 4 three-pointers and scored 15 of his game-high 18 points in the second half to lead the Leopards. Cam King hit 3 three-pointers and scored all of his 12 points in the opening quarter. Davis Burick also finished with 8 and Spencer Hall added 6 for Louisville.
The Warriors (14-5, 8-5) were led by Reese Leone who scored a team-high 15. TJ DeShields also dropped in 13 and Brandon Zuchowski scored 8 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter for West Branch.
King was on fire at the start as he amassed double figures less than 4 minutes into the contest in giving the Leopards a 12-8 edge. The Warriors DeShields also scored his 1,000th career point from the line and was honored with a standing ovation from the West Branch crowd. The eventful first quarter ended with Louisville’s Derek Zeller hitting a buzzer beating shot from well beyond the arch to put LHS up 18-13.
The Warriors answered back and took the lead with a 7-0 run to start the second quarter. The two squads battled back-and-forth and West Branch went into the break with a 27-25 edge.
The momentum shifted back into the Leopards favor out of the locker room. LHS started the second half on a 9-1 run to take a 34-28 advantage. Louisville then took their largest lead of the game at 39-32. The Warriors managed to shrink the deficit to a single possession as Louisville went on to carry a 41-38 lead into the final period.
In the first seconds of the fourth quarter, West Branch tacked on two more points from the line courtesy of a technical foul call. Then Michael Boosz dropped in a basket to give the Warriors their first lead since halftime at 42-41.
The Leopards quickly vanquished that deficit with 5 quick points. Hall scored on a lay-in and was fouled. He missed out on the old fashion three-point play, but Hall tapped the ricochet over to Bryce Zuppe for the rebound. Zuppe quickly kicked to Wahl who cashed in a three from several feet behind the arch.
West Branch continued to work inside, and again rallied back to within 46-45. After that, the NBC rivals traded scores with Burick scoring on a fast break and Zuppe converting from under the hoop after stealing the ball in the Warriors backcourt. The hustle of Burick and Zuppe made that score happen to help LHS reach the half century mark. Zuchcowski scored for the Warriors on the other end, but Colton Jones returned the favor with a three-point basket from the left corner. That put Louisville ahead 53-49 with 3:21 left to play.
West Branch again rallied as Zuchcowski spun to the hole off a pass from the top of the key by DeShields to get to within 53-52. On the ensuing possession, Wahl drove toward the hoop from the left side of the floor. But his jumper was tipped, altered, and pushed into the air. Wahl came down and immediately jumped back up, tipped the ball back toward the hoop, and got a kind bounce off the glass and in with 50 seconds left.
Trailing 55-52, the Warriors went for the game-tying three immediately. On two separate possessions, they failed to connect on five different attempts from downtown. Hall emphatically swatted a potential game-tying attempt into the east wall of the gymnasium with 8.3 seconds left. The Leopards defense tightened up on the next in-bound forcing the Warriors to put a deep prayer that went unanswered.
Hall corralled the defensive board and handed it over to Zuppe. He flung the ball into the air and the celebration was on. The Louisville bench meant the current participating roster in a frenzy near mid-court and the student section charged the court for the forever NBC Champions.
With the victory, the Leopards have now won 10 straight against the Warriors. This was the 80th all-time meeting between the two schools with Louisville holding a significant 56-24 advantage in the series. The Leopards are also 42-15 against West Branch in games played within the NBC.
Louisville Boys Basketball has now won 10 NBC Titles overall which includes 5 outright championships. While the Leopards hold a distinct lead in overall titles, this outright championship leaves them tied with Canton South for the most all-time. Louisville has won 16 total league crowns (5 Tri-County, 1 Federal League) in their history with this being the third time they have gone back-to-back.
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UP NEXT: The Leopards will next host the Lake Blue Streaks on Tuesday, February 20 for Senior Night. JV will begin at 6:00 PM with Varsity following around 7:30 PM.
LEOPARDS 55, WARRIORS 52
West Branch 13-14-11-14—52
WARRIORS: Leone 4 7-8 15, DeShields 3 5-6 13, Zuchowski 5 1-2 11, Boosz 2 1-2 5, Everett 2 1-2 5, Pidgeon 1 0-0 3. TOTAL 17 15-20 52.
3-Pointers (3): DeShields 2, Pidgeon
Team FT: 15-20 75%
LEOPARDS: Wahl 7 0-0 18, King 4 1-1 12, Burick 4 0-0 8, Hall 2 2-5 6, Zeller 1 2-2 5, C. Jones 1 1-3 4, Zuppe 1 0-0 2. TOTAL 20 6-11 55.
3-Pointers (9): Wahl 4, King 3, C. Jones, Zeller
Team FT: 6-11 55%
Fouls: 20-13 Louisville
Turnovers: 15-10 West Branch
Records: Louisville 15-5, 11-2; West Branch 14-5, 8-5
JV: Louisville 59, West Branch 33
LEOPARDS 59, WARRIORS 33
West Branch 6-13-10-4—33
WARRIORS: Berger 6 2-2 14, Rose 2 2-3 6, Coffee 2 1-1 5, Goode 1 0-0 3, Kilborn 1 0-0 2, Smith 1 0-0 2, McKeivier 0 1-2 1. TOTAL 13 6-8 33.
3-Pointers (1): Goode
Team FT: 6-8 75%
LEOPARDS: Noble 6 7-7 19, Chambers 4 2-5 10, Croxton 3 1-1 8, Hoffman 2 1-2 6, Staley 2 0-0 6, Pickens 2 0-0 5, Pukys 1 0-0 2, Rode 0 2-6 2, Giles 0 1-2 1. TOTAL 20 14-23 59.
3-Pointers (5): Staley 2, Croxton, Hoffman, Pickens
Team FT: 14-23 61%
Fouls: 20-12 West Branch
Turnovers: 26-19 West Branch
Records: Louisville 16-4, 12-1