Amspoker, Ruffin led BG to 57-49 OT win


Bowling Green senior guards Ahmir Ruffin and Jacob Amspoker accounted for 45 of the Bobcats’ 57 points, but it took 10 players to defeat visiting Napoleon, 57-48, in overtime Friday.

“They are definitely one of the tougher teams we play and they play with a lot of fire and a lot of effort but we just had to push ourselves and compete,” Ruffin said.

Ruffin had 25 points and four rebounds and Amspoker had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bobcats. Only four other players got into the scoring column.

“Other guys didn’t necessarily score, but (junior forward) Tomas (Meek) had a couple big buckets and (senior guard) Kyle (Sickler) hit a big three,” BG coach Mason Roth said.

“It was just a great team effort. Defensively, guys were on the floor. (Senior starting guard) Grant (Sonner) sits for a while and makes a great play in that overtime — it is the little stuff he does,” Roth continued.

Napoleon needed the win to stay one game out of first place in the Northern Lakes League Cardinal Division, but instead falls two games back at 11-6 and 4-3 in the NLL. BG improves to 8-10 and 3-4.

The Wildcats were led by senior Caden Kruse, who pieced together a double-double 16 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Kellen Ressler had 10 points, four rebounds, and three steals.

The Wildcats had 16 more shot attempts from the field, but made just 29% (18-for-62) and were nearly as bad at the free throw line, making 47% (7-for-15).

Napoleon had just six field goals in the first half, four of them from the arc, in falling behind 25-16 at intermission.

The Wildcats began their climb back in the third period, getting it to one possession when senior Zeke Belmares hit two free throws with just over a minute remaining, closing the gap to 34-31.

But Ruffin hit a triple 20 seconds later to give the Bobcats a 37-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Then, Napoleon did something few times try to do against BG — full court press.

In the fourth, Napoleon’s press created six steals, but the ‘Cats were fouled at the opposite end trying to convert in transition, making just 4-of-9 free throws in the quarter.

BG did not score from the field until they finally beat the press, with Meek scoring in the paint off a feed from Ruffin with 4:10 remaining in the game, keeping the Bobcats ahead, 49-46.

Napoleon never led after the first quarter, but Ressler hit a triple with 40.8 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 44-44, which stood until overtime.

Napoleon coach Chad Bostelman liked the way his team played in the second half, but he wished they had brought that energy the entire game.

“I told them if we played as hard as we did during that stretch in the third quarter, even close to that hard in the first half, we wouldn’t have been in the situation we were,” Bostelman said.

“I thought we didn’t make winning plays, especially in the first half we played soft, we played lethargic, we played selfishly, and then in the second half we showed that when you don’t do that — when you play hard and do little things well you can get back in the game. We just didn’t make plays down the stretch (OT).”

Bostelman said the zone press was a risk against a team that likes to run, but his players found the gaps and BG had difficulty getting the ball up the court.

“We did a nice job of getting them in certain spots in the floor where they were a little bit uncomfortable and a nice job of getting deflections and interceptions. We should have done it sooner,” Bostelman said.

Roth said he was just pleased that the Wildcats made enough mistakes, missed enough free throws, that they were able to reach overtime, but admitted it was difficult to put Napoleon away.

“I’m glad we got there, I guess. We were holding on for dear life,” Roth said. “That’s what happened to us the first time we played them. It was a similar game. They don’t go away from you.

“Ahmir guarded Caden Kruse that last possession. He was all over him. Ahmir did a great job on him all night defensively.”

In OT, Ruffin reached the rim on BG’s first possession, and senior guard Brayden Freyman scored on a transition layup after a defensive stop, putting the Bobcats up quickly, 48-44, and the Wildcats were never able to recover.

BG had no turnovers and was 4-for-7 from the field during OT. Ruffin said the Bobcats had to step up against Napoleon’s defensive pressure in the extra period.

“Their zone press was definitely pretty tough,” Ruffin said. “They are very long, athletic players, but I mean we started going with pushing up the sideline and getting the ball in the middle to our bigs, and then we just dumped to them for easy layups.”

In addition, BG had six defensive rebounds in OT, giving up only three second chance opportunities to the Wildcats.

“We just had to handle the pressure and really push to get on the glass — every defensive board possible,” Ruffin said.

For the Bobcats, Meek had six points and six rebounds, junior forward Karter Shank grabbed six rebounds, Sickler scored three points, Freyman scored two points and had four rebounds, and senior guard Vincent Moosbrugger added one point.

BG shot 37% (17-for-46) from the floor, made 17-of-21 free throws (81%), had 14 turnovers to the ‘Cats 12, and each team grabbed 38 rebounds.

Napoleon senior Zane Peckinpaugh had seven points and two steals, junior Trey Rubinstein had six points, six rebounds, and four steals, Belmares had six points and three steals, and junior Parker Woods had four points and eight rebounds.

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