NAPOLEON — Napoleon had two big offensive surges — the first to pull ahead and the second to get back in the game. Neither were enough to hold off invading Bowling Green.
After the Wildcats tied the game at 46 midway through the final period, the Bobcats went on a 10-1 run to pull away and pick up a 56-50 Northern Lakes League win in Napoleon’s Grand Canyon Friday night.
“After we tied the game, we started settling (for outside shots) and made bad decisions,” said Napoleon coach Chad Bostelman. “That’s why we lost.”
Napoleon entered the fourth quarter trailing 41-35 and BG stretched that lead after Jabari Conway’s basket to start the period.
The Wildcats answered with their second big offensive run of the game, going on an 11-3 run to tie the game at 46 with 4:14 remaining.
Andrew Williams and Trey Rubinstein started the run with lay-ups and Kellen Ressler followed with a triple. After a BG time-out, Ahmir Ruffin, who came off the bench to lead the Bobcats with 21 points, converted a three-point play.
Williams, who led the Cats with 15 points, made consecutive buckets to tie the game.
That is when Napoleon’s offense went ice cold.
The Wildcats missed their next six shots and was one of two from the foul line, as Ruffin and Brayden Freyman each scored inside the paint for BG. The Bobcats sealed the win, sinking six of eight free throws over the final 64 seconds.
Williams hit a triple at the buzzer, but it was too little, too late.
Brock Hastings added 10 points and Freyman scored eight points for Bowling Green, which picked up its first win of the season. The Bobcats are now 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the NLL.
“This is a big win for us. Getting win number one is never easy so we are looking to build off of this,” BG coach Mason Roth said.
“Overall our effort on both ends tonight were great. Napoleon does a great job on the offensive glass and we matched their effort and for the most part rebounded well tonight.”
Conway scored seven points, Evan Brandt and Reece Rath scored three points apiece, and A.J. Clemens and Grant Sonner scored two points each for BG.
“I thought our bench played great tonight,” Roth said. “A.J. and Reece did a great job bringing energy and playing really hard.”
However, Ruffin’s effort ultimately was the difference.
“Ahmir kept us alive in that first half,” Roth said. “He is a guy that we have high expectations for. It’s just taking him some time to get adjusted to varsity basketball but when he gets going, he can fill it up. We are hoping that continues in the near future.”
Roth was glad to see his team get on the right track after losing to Wapakoneta (48-43) and Perrysburg (71-40).
“We are currently dealing with some illness in our program right now so we are hoping that goes away soon because we have a big stretch of games coming up. Proud of our guys and hoping to see a similar effort on Monday night against Eastwood.”
Napoleon used a 12-0 run over a three-minute period in the opening period to grab a 14-5 lead. Caden Kruse, scored seven points and dished two assists during the run.
Kruse finished with nine points, but did not score in the second half. Ressler and Rubinstein added eight points each for the Cats.
BG scored seven unanswered points to end the first quarter and Ruffin sank two mid-range jumpers to start the second quarter to give the Bobcats a 16-14 lead.
Kruse’s bank shot three minutes into the second period ended a 5 1/2 minute scoring drought for Napoleon.
“We settled for way too many shots,” said Bostelman. “We were not patient. Their length and defense got us sped up when we should have been working for a better shot. We were not making that extra pass.”
Ruffin and Rath followed Kruse’s bucket with back-to-back 3-pointers and the Bobcats led 29-23 at intermission.
Both teams scored 12 points in the third period to set up the final stanza.
Napoleon is now 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the NLL. The Wildcats are back in action tonight at Wauseon.
“We have to get tougher,” said Bostelman. “We got out-toughed tonight, and we are going to see tougher kids tomorrow.”