A number of banners hang from the ceiling inside Bowling Green's gym.
Each one represents a Bobcat athletic program and identifies specific years in which the respective teams captured Northern Lakes League championships.
The boys basketball banner sticks out like a sore thumb. It hangs over the court blank as a clean sheet of paper.
However, that could soon change for the surprise team of the NLL. The Bobcats put themselves one win away from claiming at least a share of the title after they gutted out a 60-52 win over Southview last night before an enthusiastic crowd.
“I'm arrogant enough to know that there's a banner out there in the gym with no numbers on it,” said first-year Bowling Green coach Von Graffin. “I promise during my tenure here there will be some numbers on that banner.”
With the win the Bobcats (14-5, 11-2) remained tied for first place with Perrysburg with one game to play. A win over Northview next Friday would guarantee at least a title share. The Bobcats joined the NLL in 1978.
Andrew Vroman scored a team-high 14 points and grabbed seven boards to lead four players in double figures for Bowling Green. Vroman scored eight of his points during the fourth quarter and was 10-for-10 from the foul line as the Bobcats sank 25 of 30 free throws for the game.
Chris Hanna added 11 points and seven boards while Eric Radabaugh and Justin Rex came through for 10 points apiece.
After finishing 3-18 overall a year ago, it's been an exciting season for the Bobcats. However, none of their games may have tested their nerves more than last night's contest against Southview (14-4, 9-4), a team that was looking to keep its title hopes intact.
“This is the first time we've faced that kind of pressure,” Hanna said. “But we had practiced all week shooting our free throws to prepare for this.”
Southview's Steve Kyser did all he could against the Bobcats and their 2-3 zone defense. He scored half of his team's points - 26 - to go along with a game-high 14 boards. The 6-3 junior was perfect from the foul line on 10 attempts.
Ray Thomas accounted for 11 points, seven boards and seven steals in a losing cause.
“I thought they did a great job of defending Kyser, but he still managed to finish with 26 points,” Southview coach Marc Jump said.
However, in a game called rather tightly by the officials, an 18-for-65 shooting effort from the field spelled doom for the Cougars.
“We really didn't shoot the ball well tonight,” Jump said. “I felt we stood around too much on offense. I thought BG played well.
“It was just one of those nights.”
Meanwhile, Graffin was quite pleased by his team's overall effort that leaves them just four quarters away from making this a season to truly remember.
“We had guys come up and make some big plays for us,” Graffin said. “I thought at the half some of them [Cougars] were already hanging their heads down.”