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Leopards Fall to Carrollton in the Opener 68-62

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Carrollton 68, Louisville 62

Despite hitting eleven 3-pointers, the Louisville Leopards (0-1, 0-1) still fell to the Carrollton Warriors (3-0, 1-0) 68-62 Friday night.  The Leopards defense simply had no answer for Warriors senior guard John Lowdermilk who poured in 28 points, including 11 in the final quarter.

The Leopards went on a 7-0 run to start the ball game and held Carrollton off the scoreboard for the first 3:05.  However, Carrollton copied the Leopards with a 10-0 streak of their own, a run in which Louisville went completely cold from the field for almost three minutes.  At one point, Warriors guard Tyler Sheets dropped in 8 consecutive points for Carrollton.  But the three-ball kept the Leopards in the game as they hit four from beyond the arch in the first period in battling to a 16-16 tie at the end of one.  Rocco Buccasso hit two from downtown, while Owen Gramoy and Mitch Sluss each hit one a piece.

The Leopards and Warriors fought hard for points in the second quarter as each team’s defense began to clamp down.  However, one problem for the Leopards defense that would not go away was Lowdermilk, who scored 8 of Carrollton’s 12 second quarter points.  He continued his dominance after the intermission as well in leading Carrollton to a 35-31 lead with 5:30 left in the third quarter.  At that point Lowdermilk had scored 13 of the Warriors last 17 points.

The Leopards answered back though with a 9-0 run led by a trey and a jump shot from the free throw line by Gramoy.  Gramoy finished the game with a team leading 20 points.

Carrollton cut the deficit to 40-39, before Mike Schooley completed a layup and one to make it 43-39.  Schooley finished the night with 14 points and 10 boards.   After Carrollton scored four straight points, Louisville guard Mike Kelly swished home a three-pointer appearing to give the Leopards the momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

But instead of Leopard dominance, a see-saw battled ensued.  The Leopards final lead of the game came when Gramoy dialed-up another three-ball giving Louisville a 49-48 edge with 6:19 left to play.  However, the Warriors were relentless.  They reeled off the next seven points that put a permanent strangle hold on the Leopards. With the score 59-54, Lowdermilk picked off a pass and took it in for a layup to give the Warriors a seven point advantage.

With under two minutes to go, Louisville still had hope for a miracle comeback.  An off-ball foul led to Gramoy splitting a pair of free throws and on the next possession.  He followed that up with an NBA range 3-pointer and the Leopards only trailed 61-58.   But a layup by Carrollton’s Stephen Ericksen also drew a foul and he made the extra free throw extending the Carrollton advantage back to six.  But Sluss hit a 3-pointer on the other end for Louisville, keeping the Leopards candle of hope lit at 64-61.  But the light faded completely when Lowdermilk hit two pressure free throws giving him 11 points for the quarter.  Rob Smith’s final two free throws sealed the deal for the Warriors, giving them the 68-62 victory.

MY TAKE:

Despite the loss, the Leopards did prove that they have an impressive and balanced offensive attack.  In the post, Schooley scored 14 points, while also grabbing 10 rebounds.  Then to counter Schooley’s post presence, they have four players that can hit from the perimeter in Gramoy, Kelly, Buccasso, and Sluss.  All of which had multiple three-point makes, including Gramoy who hit 5 of the 11 Leopards downtown makes.  If the Leopards get hot from the outside, expect a lot of teams to fall quickly.  The Leopards Achilles Heel in this game was their inability to stop Lowdermilk and the Warriors offense, but they also struggled from the charity stride.  Carrollton hit 73% (11 of 15) of their free throws, while Louisville hit only 50% (7 of 14).

The Warriors are a good basketball team with lots of returning players and the fact that they had two games prior to this, while we did not, may have also played a factor.  The Leopards defense seemed to run out of gas in the fourth.  Carrollton always seems to play Louisville tough though, and this is the second straight year they have beaten us at home.  In fact, last year’s 65-52 loss to Carrollton at home was our only NBC loss. Its only one game, and I am confident the Leps will pull things together and make a run for another NBC Title.

NEXT GAME: Saturday, December 11 against Perry at Lake High School. Tip-off starts at 6:00 as the Leopards will compete in Hoops For Healing.


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JV: Louisville 66, Carrollton 44

The Leopards JV team remained consistent as they outscored Carrollton by 11 points in each half to win handily 66-44.   Sophmores Trent Ohman and Alex Schooley poured in 15 points each, while Jack O’Brien also added 12 for the Leps.  The JV team will be action again tomorrow against Perry at 12:00.

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