By ANDREW WILLIAMS
LEIPSIC — The term “free throw” can be a bit misleading.
Friday night’s Blanchard Valley Conference tilt between Leipsic and McComb proved why.
Zach Kuhlman hit a pair from the line for the Vikings with 2.7 seconds left in regulation to knot the score at 58-58 and send the game to overtime.
The Panthers then made 11 of 14 in the extra session, including 7 of 8 from Clay Grubb, and came away with a crucial 69-63 victory that leaves four teams with one conference loss.
“I think every time we play Leipsic, nothing works easy,” McComb coach Aaron Roth said. “It’s always been real close.
“That was one of the better games. We’ve been a part of a lot of bad high school games, but tonight was one of the best high school games in a while.”
Grubb was the catalyst for the Panthers (6-4, 3-1 BVC) in the second half.
The 6-foot-3 junior scored 13 of his team-high 22 points after halftime and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
He hit 1 of 2 free throws with 46.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give McComb a 58-56 lead before Kuhlman stepped to the line to force overtime.
“I was just thinking to myself, ‘It’s going to come down to free throws at the end of the game,'” Grubb said. “We weren’t hitting them at first and we just started making them.”
McComb had a chance to put the game out of reach at the end of regulation, but Blake Glaser missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 10.9 seconds remaining that kept the Panthers’ lead at 58-56 and left the door open for the Vikings.
For all the success McComb had at the free-throw line in overtime, Leipsic was the antithesis of that.
The Vikings were 0 of 6 from the line in the extra period and finished the game just 10 of 21 (48 percent).
“Our kids kept fighting and they did the game plan,” Leipsic coach Scott Maag said. “Our sets, we were getting whatever we wanted. I think the difference of the game was their role players hit shots, more shots than our role players hit. Grubb played a heck of a game, Zach (Kuhlman) played a heck of game, but I just think what it boils down to is, again, they made foul shots in overtime; we didn’t.”
The teams battled for 36 minutes as McComb put together a 20-4 run to lead 25-15 midway through the second quarter, only to see Leipsic finish the half on a 10-2 run to cut the Panthers’ lead to 27-25 at the half.
A 3-pointer by Kuhlman on the first possession of the third quarter put the Vikings ahead 28-27 and it was a back-and-forth contest from that point, with eight lead changes in the period and 10 in the second half.
Leipsic (6-4, 2-1) went up 48-44 on a basket by Neil Haselman, but McComb stormed back and built a 57-53 cushion with 1:09 to go in the fourth quarter after Taylor Reardon knocked home two free throws.
As clutch as Grubb was for McComb in the second half, Kuhlman was every bit as important for Leipsic’s comeback.
He hit five of his six 3-pointers and dropped in 25 of his game-high 28 points after halftime. His 3-ball with 10.1 seconds left in overtime cut the deficit to 65-63, but two free throws each from Grubb and Drew Siferd put the game out of reach.
“We did a good job of executing and being aggressive,” Roth said.
“Clay Grubb knocked down some big free throws and then Drew Siferd made two of the biggest ones, because he hadn’t played since early in the third quarter. But he went right to the line and made two to put the game away.
“You’ve got to give Zach Kuhlman credit. He was incredible. … We were hoping to keep him under control and not let anybody else hurt us.”
Hanes finished with 14 points, Reardon added 13 points, while Glaser and Chas Shoop each netted eight points.
Gavin Cupp contributed 13 points and Jordan Brown grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds for Leipsic.
MCCOMB (6-4, 3-1 BVC)
Reardon 3-4–13, Glaser 3-0–8, Hanes 5-1–14, Dysert 1-0–2, Shoop 2-2–8, Siferd 0-2–2, Grubb 6-9–22, Clark 0-0–0. TOTALS: 20-49 17-24 — 69.
LEIPSIC (6-4, 2-1 BVC)
Cupp 5-3–13, M. Schroeder 1-1–4, Haselman 4-0–8, Mangas 2-1–5, Brown 2-1–5, Kuhlman 9-4–28, R. Schroeder 0-0–0, Lopez 0-0–0, Brecht 0-0–0. TOTALS: 23-65 10-21 — 63.
McComb 14 13 15 16 11 — 69
Leipsic 11 14 16 17 5 — 63
3-Point GOALS: McComb 11-25 (Reardon & Hanes 3, Schroeder & Shoop 2, Grubb); Leipsic 7-24 (Kuhlman 6, M. Schroeder).
rebounds: McComb 30 (Grubb 12); Leipsic 32 (Brown 10).
turnovers: McComb 14; Leipsic 13.
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