Leopards Survive Wildcats Upset Bid 49-48 – Boys Basketball
#2 Louisville 49, #16 Canton South 48
The #2 seed Louisville Leopards rallied in the final minutes to defeat the #16 seed Canton South Wildcats 49-48 in the DII Ashtabula District Semifinals Wednesday Night at GlenOak High School. With the victory, Louisville improves to 18-6 on the season and advances to take on the #12 Howland Tigers in the DII Ashtabula District Finals on Friday, March 4 at 7:00 PM at Lakeside High School.
Aljancic Leads Leopards With Game High 20
Junior guard Will Aljancic scored 10 of his game high 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Leopards. Junior guard Tyler Boldon and sophomore guard Hayden Nigro also broke double figures with 11 points each for Louisville.
Teams Exchange Leads At the Start
The Wildcats scored on the opening possession of the game, but the Leopards quickly responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead. Junior guard Charlie Roberts nailed a three-pointer from the right side of the arch to put Louisville on the board. Then Nigro grabbed a defensive board and dribbled coast to coast before making it 5-2.
Canton South recaptured the lead at 9-6 before Nigro hit a three-pointer from the top of the arch to knot the game up at 9-9. The Wildcats would take a 13-11 lead as the first quarter buzzer sounded, but that was short-lived as Aljancic opened up the second quarter with a three-pointer to put the Leopards back in front 14-13.
Leopards Narrow the Gap Before Halftime
The two teams continued to trade blows and neither was really able to establish momentum. Canton South successfully motioned players and found open shots in the lane which helped them pull out to a 22-16 advantage. In response, Nigro again snagged a defensive board and went end-to-end before spinning through the Wildcats defense for a short lay-in to cut the deficit to four.
With under 15 seconds to play in the first half, senior small forward Peyton Karovic caught a pass on the left elbow, drove down the left side of the lane, and scored to put South ahead 24-18. Louisville hustled the other way and Aljancic quickly threw a cross court pass to Boldon on the left side of the arch. Boldon caught the pass and cashed in on a three-pointer a second before the buzzer sounded. The Leopards trailed just 24-21 heading into the break.
South Takes Largest Lead of the Game
Louisville looked determined to take over out of the locker room. The Leopard defense got a quick stop on South’s opening possession and then Aljancic went hard to the hole on the other end to trim the Wildcat lead to 24-23.
Canton South responded with a 6-0 run to secure the largest lead of the contest at 30-23 and then later at 32-25. No matter what the Leopards did, it seemed like the #16 seed Wildcats weren’t going to go away. The game was a far cry from the 71-37 shellacking Louisville gave to Canton South at LHS on January 18. A game in which LHS was in complete command and never trailed beyond the first quarter.
Louisville Erases Deficit with 9-0 3rd Quarter Run
But just like that momentum shifted. The Leopards flipped the switch with a 9-0 run in just 2:40. Aljancic made a pair of baskets, Nigro scored while being fouled, and Boldon buried a three from the left corner to give Louisville a 34-32 advantage with 3:05 to go in the third quarter.
The Wildcats answered on the other end from downtown to take the lead. Senior small forward Brady Noll got a kind bounce off the front of the rim to put South back in front 35-34. The Leopards would eventually trail 37-34 heading into the fourth.
Six Straight Scoring Possessions
Aljancic drove down the right side of the lane and scored on a layup to put Louisville back in front 38-37 with 6:36 to play. But again the Leopards quickly surrendered their lead. Senior point guard Akil Martin put back an offensive board, scored, and was fouled in the process. He then completed the three-point play at the line to put Canton South ahead 40-38. On Louisville’s next possession, sophomore point guard Poochie Snyder poked away a Leopard pass at the top of the key, captured possession, and transitioned the other way for another Wildcat score to put CSHS up 42-38.
Snyder’s score triggered a string of six straight possessions in which each team scored from the field. From the left corner, Boldon cut the lead to one with his third three-ball of the night. Snyder drove and scored for South, then Aljancic answered with a basket for Louisville. Karovic scored in the lane for the Wildcats, then Aljancic answered for the Leopards to trim the LHS disadvantage to 46-45.
Siegfried Gives the Leopards the Lead
The Louisville defense got a much needed stop on the other end, but the Leopards were also blanked on their next possession after failing to take advantage of the bonus from the line. Canton South capitalized on the chance to expand their lead as Martin found a seam inside to Noll. He laid the ball home for two more making it 48-45 Wildcats with 2:25 to play.
Back on offense, Aljancic was fouled on the right wing and went to the line for a 1-and-1. He sunk both shots from the charity stride to cut the South lead to 48-47 with 2:08 to go.
Multiple charges were called on the offense throughout the first 30 minutes of action and Louisville look set to draw another. Noll caught the ball in the lane and backed into freshman guard Beau Siegfried who fell backward. Nothing was called and the Leopards fans groaned in frustration. Noll kicked the ball back out to Karovic on the right side of the three-point line and he launched a three-ball. The shot missed off the right side of the rim and caromed off the backboard in to the hands of Boldon.
Boldon secured the rebound and threw to Siegfried to his left. The freshman dribbled across the timeline and assessed the South defense. He then angled to the other side of the court and found an open lane to the basket. Four different Wildcats encountered Siegfried on this path, but he would not be stopped. The freshman shot over the defense and scored on a layup that gave Louisville a 49-48 lead with 1:35 to play.
Timeout was called and the LHS bench erupted in celebration. The Leopards had scratched and clawed the entire second half to capture their slim advantage, now they had to finish.
Louisville’s Defense Holds
Karovic rolled off the right elbow and put a shot up in the lane on Canton South’s next possession. The attempt was contested by Louisville freshman post Brayden Gross and the ball missed its mark. The ball spun awkwardly off the rim, in and out of the hands of two Wildcat rebounders, and headed out of bounds. Karovic jumped to save the ball from hitting beyond the boundary, but his desperate relay found the hands of Aljancic. The Leopards had the ball and they had the lead, for the first time since the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Louisville burned some time playing keep away before drawing a foul. But again the Leopards couldn’t take advantage of the bonus and missed from the line. The ball hit both sides of the rim and bounced out into the hands of Noll. South came back the other way and called timeout with 22.7 seconds left.
After another inbound, the Wildcats took some time off the clock and called another timeout with 14.7 seconds to play looking to setup the game winning shot. It didn’t go as planned. Tight defense by Roberts forced Snyder to dribble right towards the baseline and he stepped out of bounds, turning the ball back over to the Louisville with 9.5 seconds left.
The Leopards struggled to inbound the ball and called their final timeout to avoid a five second violation. The second inbound attempt was tipped away by Snyder and into the hands of Noll at the top of the key. The three-point attempt missed everything and gave Louisville the ball back with 2.1 seconds to play.
Boldon heaved the ball to mid-court on the next inbound pass and it was intercepted. Martin made the pick and threw up a prayer as the buzzer sounded. The shot attempt missed everything, but the referees awarded the Wildcats bench with a late timeout.
Time was added back onto the clock in the precise quantity of 0.4 seconds. This allowed for a potential tip-in off the final inbound from half court. Snyder threw the pass toward the hoop and Aljancic batted it away to secure the Leopard victory. Aljancic charged to the other side of the court and high-fived the front row of the student section. Louisville players chest-bumped at the same time in celebration as Louisville advanced to its second district championship in three years.
Karovic Leads Canton South with Team High 17
Canton South was led by Karovic who finished with a team high 17 points. Martin also scored 14 and Noll tacked on 11 for CSHS.
It wasn’t at all easy, but the win was the Leopards eighth straight over the Wildcats dating back to 2016. This was the first postseason meeting between the two teams since Louisville scratched out a 36-34 victory over Canton South in the 2000 DII Canton Sectional Finals. The Wildcats still lead the all-time series 95-55 dating back to 1933 and hold a 6-5 edge in tournament games in the series dating back to their first known postseason matchup in 1957. The Leopards have now won the last three tournament games in the series overall.
Louisville is now 57-88 all-time in tournament play dating back to 1932. The Leopards now hold a winning 29-28 mark in the postseason when competing in Division II.
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Siegfried Passes Harold for Most Tournament Wins
Head Coach Tom Siegfried earned his 11th career tournament victory as Louisville defeated Canton South in Wednesday’s District Semifinal matchup. With the win, Siegfried surpasses Joe Harold (10-4 from 1990-1993) for the most postseason victories in program history. Siegfried is now 11-14 in tournament play, which includes a winning 9-8 record when competing in Division II.
Siegfried also notched his 202nd career coaching victory with the win over South. This ties him with John Gresko for the most varsity basketball coaching wins in school history. Gresko coached the Lady Leopards from 1983-1999 and compiled a record of 202-155 in that span. Siegfried can break his mark Friday Night when Louisville seeks its first District Championship since 1993.
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Canton South at Louisville Boys Basketball Statistics
LEOPARDS 49, WILDCATS 48
Canton South 13-11-13-11–48
WILDCATS: Karovic 8 1-2 17, Martin 6 1-1 14, Noll 4 2-2 11, Snyder 2 0-0 4, Haut 1 0-0 2. TOTAL 21 4-5 48.
3-Pointers (2): Marting, Noll
Team FT: 4-5 80%
LEOPARDS: Aljancic 8 3-4 20, Boldon 4 0-4 11, Nigro 4 2-5 11, Siegfried 2 0-0 4, Roberts 1 0-0 3. TOTAL 19 5-13 49.
3-Pointers (6): Boldon 3, Aljancic, Nigro, Roberts
Team FT: 5-13 38%
Fouls: 15-11 Canton South
Records: Louisville 18-6