Sluss Forces OT, Leps Stall, Kelly Hits! BLUE AND WHITE WINNER!
Louisville 58, Canton South 57, OT
Mitch Sluss made a layup to force overtime and Mike Kelly banged home a three-ball with 7.2 left in overtime to lift the Louisville Leopards (12-8, 9-5) past the Canton South Wildcats (6-14, 4-10) 58-57 on Senior Night. Owen Gramoy and Toby Minster combined for 40 of the Leopards 58 points in a multi-tempo paced game Thursday Night at Louisville High School.
When Canton South and Louisville meet in an athletic event, you never know what your going to get, but it is almost always a battle down to the end. At the start of the fourth quarter, Louisville actually held one of the biggest leads of the night at 44-40. However, midway through the period South tied the game at 46 all after Ethan Gallion completed a three-point play. After Louisville had been shutout from the field for over five minutes, Minster broke the spell with a quick lay-in to answer South’s small spurt.
A few seconds later, South’s Collin McEndre banged home a triple to put the Wildcats up 51-49, but right back down came the Leopards. Gramoy faked out a South defender and popped a three to put Louisville back up by a single digt and Canton South Head Coach Matt Kramer quickly burned a timeout. Kramer’s timeout proved to be a wise investment as Armand Fontes hit a step-back three-ball to again put South ahead by a bucket. Fontes finished leading all Wildcat scorers on the night with 21.
The back-and-forth fest ended on Louisville’s next possession when Gallion picked off a Billy Lairson cross-court pass. Fontes eventually turned that into two points and things did not look good for the Leopards. But on the ensuing possession, Sluss drove straight to the basket, laid the ball in the hoop, and was fouled. His free throw clanked off the rim though and South did the best they could to run out the rest of the clock nursing a one-point advantage.
Louisville had to foul several times to get the Wildcats into the bonus, because up to that point the Leopards had only recorded 3 fouls for the half. But before they could get to the seventh foul, Canton South’s Bryson Smith found an open McEndre under the basket. McEndre went to shoot and got completely denied by Minster. Sluss picked up the ricocheted ball and charged down the court before heaving a pass to Gramoy who couldn’t quite fit it inside to Kelly.
South retained possession and eventually got to the line where Smith made 1 of 2 free throws to put the Red and Gray up 55-53 with 23.6 remaining. Louisville had one more chance to tie the game and they seized the opportunity. Sluss found a wide-open lane to the hole, banked it off the glass, it dropped in, and he was fouled. The crowd roared, but the game was far from over. The charity shot rimmed out and a Gallion 30-foot jumper at the buzzer did too. The former Federal League rivals were now going to overtime and why not?
In overtime, no one scored for the first 3:45, no one even attempted a shot, and for the most part no one even moved. Louisville won the tip and Sluss received a pass in front of the center court circle and that is where he stayed put for the next 3:45. Coach Kramer and Louisville’s Coach Tom Siegfried were both content and letting time run-off the clock. With 15 seconds to go Sluss dribbled and passed it over to Kelly on the left wing. Kelly paused, then dribbled closer to the three-point line practically unguarded. He threw up a three-ball and it went through the basket sending the student section into pandemonium.
Since South was still in the bonus, Louisville decided to foul. However, Kyle Deckerd made both shots to cut the lead to 58-57. Kelly was then fouled, but he clanked both free throw attempts with just 4.5 seconds remaining. South had no timeouts though and Fontes half-court heave hit too hard off the backboard much to the delight of the fans in attendance. The Leopards had survived.
It wasn’t always a patient, slow-paced game though. In the first quarter the teams combined for 8 three-pointers and 42 points. Gramoy had 16 of his 24 points in the first quarter alone, which included 4 three-pointers. Records would have obliterated had that pace continued, but it didn’t. In the second and third quarters combined Louisville held a 22-20 advantage on the scoreboard, which was also the score at the end of the first quarter alone. The Wildcats slowed the game down and the Leopards followed suit. It was a chess match all night, neither team could figure out the other.
If you liked fast-paced action then Louisville High School was the place to be Thursday night. If you liked slow-paced, stalling and grinding action then Louisville High School was the place to be Thursday night. If you love nerve-racking endings then you really should have been in Louisville High School’s Gymnasium Thursday night.
LEOPARDS: Gramoy 8 2-2 24, Minster 6 4-7 16, Sluss 2 3-6 7, Kelly 2 0-2 6, Schooley 1 3-4 5, TOTALS 19 12-21 58.
3PT (8): Gramoy (6), Kelly (2)
TEAM FT: 12-21 57%
WILDCATS: Fontes 8 0-0 21, Deckerd 4 2-2 12, Washington 4 1-2 9, Gallion 2 1-1 6, Smith 2 1-2 6, McEndree 10-0 3, TOTALS 21 5-7 57.
3PT (10): Fontes (5), Deckerd (2), Gallion (1), McEndree (1), Smith (1)
TEAM FT: 5-7 71%
NEXT GAME: The Leopards will continue play against the Alliance Aviators in the District Tournament on Wednesday, March 2 at 8:00 P.M. All district tournament games will be played at Canton’s Memorial Field House.
Louisville 49, Canton South 44
The JV squad finished their season at 17-3 with a 49-44 win over Canton South Thursday Night. Alex Schooley paced the Leps with 11, while Jeremy McQuilkin had 10, and Jack O’brien added 9. South’s Kyle Deckerd led all scorers with 12 points, while Dejon Newell also dropped in 10 for the Wildcats.