BOWLING GREEN – The Bowling Green Bobcats scrapped, clawed, and ultimately refused to allow Anthony Wayne to clinch at least a share of the Northern Lakes League title on Friday night.
Bowling Green trailed from early in the second quarter before rallying for a dramatic 57-56 victory.
Senior guard Andrew Herringshaw came up with a steal and then scored to give the Bobcats a 54-52 lead with 2:39 left. Herringshaw then nailed a free throw with 07.4 seconds left to give BG a one-point lead.
Anthony Wayne's Matt Fox, who finished with 15 points, then missed a shot just before the buzzer.
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Herringshaw, who also nailed three 3 pointers, finished with 16 points.
“Knocking off a real good team and keeping us in contention feels great,” Herringshaw said. “We've had so many close games this year where we lost by a point or two. We know we have a chance every time. Confidence-wise it really puts us up high. We hope to win out.”
Bowling Green senior Vitto Brown, who will play at the University of Wisconsin, finished with a double-double. Brown scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Brown, who also had four blocks, had a key offensive rebound and putback that tied it at 56 with 55 seconds left.
“We just wanted to prove something,” Brown said. “We wanted to make sure we got the win tonight. We know this league race isn't over and it will give us confidence going into the postseason. This was a great atmosphere. It kind of felt like college next year.”
Sophomore LaMonta Stone scored 11 points for Bowling Green (10-9 overall). The Bobcats remained in contention with a 7-4 record in the NLL and also prevented AW from celebrating its first championship since 1998.
“My heart is racing,” BG coach Von Graffin said shortly after the game. “We've had a lot of close games. We're playing well at the right time. Anthony Wayne is a nice team and we still need help and we have to win out.”
The Generals (15-3), who were picked to finish just ahead of BG in a preseason poll, remain in the driver's seat with a 9-2 NLL record.
“Tonight was one of those games where the ball just bounces the other way sometimes,” Anthony Wayne coach Bryan Borcherdt said. “It was a great high school basketball game. They made one more play than we did. Tonight it wasn't meant to be. But we will refocus.”
Anthony Wayne senior Mark Donnal, who will play at the University of Michigan, paced his team with 15 points and eight rebounds. Anthony Wayne senior Ose Omofoma finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
In an earlier January match up, the Generals got off to a quick start and held on 58-52 at home.
Anthony Wayne, which led by as many as nine points in the third quarter, held a 50-44 edge with 4:36 left. But the Bobcats outscored the Generals 13-6 down the stretch.
Brown started the rally with an old fashioned three-point played. Brown grabbed an offensive rebound, scored and was fouled. His successful free throw made it 50-47.
Donnal, who faced Brown one-on-one when the AW center was on offense, hit a hook shot over Brown to re-established a five-point lead.
“It's pretty fun for northwest Ohio fans to come out and see two Big Ten players square off,” Graffin said. “Both hit huge shots.”
BG put together a 7-0 run to take the lead. Herringshaw converted two free throws before Mitchell Gardner drained a 3 – his only points of the game. Herringshaw's steal and subsequent bucket then gave BG a two-point lead.
“I read him and I got out and stole it,” Herringshaw said. “That really got the crowd going. That was when we really knew we had a chance to win it.”
But Fox quickly tied it back up and then following a steal by Omofoma, Fox's putback gave the Generals a 56-54 edge.
But Brown, the NLL's leading scorer and rebounder, answered with his own putback and then blocked Donnal with 46 seconds left.
After a BG turnover, Hunter Debo missed the front end of a one-and-one with 26 seconds remaining for AW. Donnal then blocked Herringshaw but the Generals were called for a foul before the deflected shot. Herringshaw then calmly knocked down the first free throw.
“We work on pressure free throws every practice and if we miss, we have to run. So it all came back to that. I had to make them or I was running,” Herringshaw said.
But the senior missed the second. Anthony Wayne hurried down court and Fox had a good look but the ball bounced off the rim as the horn sounded.
“That may have been a blessing to miss that second one. They had no timeouts and they had to scramble,” Graffin said.
The Generals, which outrebounded the Bobcats 31-25, missed three foul shots in the fourth.
AW now faces Perrysburg (7-4) next Tuesday, while Bowling Green goes on the road to take on Napoleon.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.