Leopold slips past Zalma 83-81 in OT

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Bell City's Marty Dames shot over Bunker's Lightening Gibson in the second quarter of the opening round in the Class 1 District 2 tournament Monday at Zalma. (Fred Lynch)

ZALMA, Mo. -- Leopold's Darren VanGennip was confident in his ability to deliver in the clutch during a tie game against Zalma on Monday with 26 seconds left in overtime.

"I just had the ball and I felt like I needed to score," VanGennip said. "So I just made up my mind and shot it.

"I couldn't ask for anything better. It was an off-balance shot but I have confidence in that shot."

VanGennip nailed an off-balance jumper to give the Wildcats a two-point lead and beat the Bulldogs 83-81 in Class 1 District 2 boys basketball action at Zalma High School.

VanGennip led the Wildcats with 27 points, including six points in the 4 -minute overtime. Center Larry Nussbaum also had a strong game with 25 points, including 11 points in the fourth quarter to help keep Leopold in the game as Zalma rallied.

The game remained close throughout. Leopold led 15-14 after the first quarter and 38-33 at halftime. The Wildcats clung to a four-point lead at 60-56 entering the fourth quarter.

Leopold increased its lead to eight points at 66-58 with 6:24 remaining in the contest, but Zalma would not go away.

The Bulldogs staged a 6-0 run to get within two points at 66-64 with 3:40 remaining. The Bulldogs would eventually tie the game and force overtime with the score knotted 75-75.

Nussbaum was a force inside in the fourth quarter, driving to the basket three times, hitting his shots and drawing fouls. He had 3 three-point plays in the period.

"I just went in there as hard as I could," Nussbaum said. "Coach just tells us to practice our free throws, go in there and get fouled and make the shot."

Zalma coach Steve Wells added: "I wish we would have taken away the high post. [Nussbaum] was pretty active. That's probably what hurt us pretty badly. But we didn't do it."

Zalma appeared to have the momentum entering overtime after it staged its rally.

"I would say they had the most momentum because they just outrebounded us in the fourth quarter, but we were lucky to come down and make a couple shots and hit our free throws," VanGennip said.

VanGennip scored six points in the extra period, matching the Bulldogs' total. And VanGennip came away with the big shot at the end.

"He's a good shooter," Nussbaum said of VanGennip. "He?s a pretty good player all around. He can shoot the ball, and if you leave him open, he's going to knock it down."

VanGennip is happy his team lived to see another day.

"It's great," he said of the win. "I'm looking forward to playing Bell City. I think it will be a fun game to play and I'm glad it's not over yet.

LEOPOLD 83, ZALMA 81, OT

Zalma 14 19 23 19 6 -- 81

Leopold 15 23 22 15 8 -- 83

Zalma (81) -- Travis Mergel 4, Stephen Simmers 12, Colton Bailey 27, Nick Smith 10, Justin Lemons 14, Kevin Walker 11, Justin Stotts 3. FG 33, FT 15-27, F 18.

Leopold (83) -- Dustin Thiele 15, Cody Van de Ven 4, Wade Wiseman 10, Darren VanGennip 27, Larry Nussbaum 25, Clayton Stoverink 2. FG 33, FT 16-22, F 17.

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