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Hot second half lifts Leopold into Class 1 District 3 semifinals
DELTA, Mo. -- Leopold wasted little time burying Zalma in the opening minutes of the third quarter Monday.
Junior John Bohnsack drained a pair of 3-pointers and Lance Seiler added one to help the Wildcats pull away in their Class 1 District 3 boys basketball opener. Leopold pulled away from a close game to down the Bulldogs 75-49 and advance to today's semifinal against Richland.
"I haven't been shooting 3s at all and haven't been making them," Bohnsack said. "I felt like that gave us a little spark."
Bohnsack's first triple came 7 seconds into the third quarter and his second came about a minute later to push an eight-point lead at the break to 33-19.
"It gets me a little bit fired up if I get a couple shots down," Bohnsack said. "I haven't been doing good. It got us going, got us fired up."
Seiler's 3-pointer came with 5 minutes, 28 seconds left in the third.
"It swung a lot of momentum our way," Leopold senior Anthony Seabaugh said about the 3-pointers. "It kicked off the second half."
Leopold (21-5) outscored Zalma 20-5 over the first 4:24 of the third quarter.
"We wanted to focus on guarding their big guys because they beat us bad," Zalma junior Justin Stotts said. "We tried to stop that. Then they started hitting the 3s and it went downhill from there."
Leopold shot 56 percent (10 of 18) from the floor in the third period on its way to outscoring Zalma 26-14.
Leopold coach Shawn Kinder said it was important for his team to get off to a hot start in the third quarter because of the scoring prowess of Stotts and fellow junior Stephen Simmers, who both average more than 20 points a game.
"Those two kids are dynamite scorers," Kinder said. "They can score in a flurry. I knew we had to get up early. It looked like their legs got tired in the second half. That helped us a little bit."
The Wildcats attacked down low. They enjoyed a noticeable size advantage in the paint and tried to exploit it.
"To me, first thing I thought coming into the game was get it down low," Bohnsack said. "We're oversized. I was like get it down to them, work it around, swing it around, get them open shots."
Seabaugh, Leopold's 6-foot-6 center, scored a game-high 22 points.
"He's a great kid and works hard," Kinder said of Seabaugh. "A lot of our offense goes through him. He's done a great job all winter with that. We looked for him to make big shots. He's a senior."
Leopold's offensive success in the third quarter came after both teams struggled in the second quarter. They combined for 13 points while shooting 22 percent from the field. Zalma, which never led in the game, cut its deficit to four points midway through the second quarter, but Leopold pushed its lead to eight by the intermission. Leopold committed seven turnovers in the second quarter, but the Wildcats said they weren't worried at halftime.
"We just knew we had to come out hot," Bohnsack said. "We knew if we came out, we knew we could probably get them down."
Stotts said the Bulldogs stuck with the Wildcats for a while by getting some scoring from unlikely sources. He scored 12 points, while Austin Sitze finished with a team-high 17 points.
"We're a young team," Stotts said. "Some of our guys stepped up and started shooting that they haven't done all year to take some of the pressure off me and Stephen."
The Wildcats will get a chance to avenge one of their five losses in today's semifinal. Richland knocked off Leopold 76-71 on Jan. 21. The teams will tip at 7:30 p.m.
ZALMA (49) -- Stephen Simmers 11, Austin Sitze 17, Thad McGregor 4, Andrew Tucker 2, Gage Lemons 3, Justin Stotts 12. FG 19, FT 5-10, F 15. (3-pointers: Sitze 2, Simmers 2, Lemons 1, Stotts 1. Fouled out: none)
LEOPOLD (75) -- Kyle Stroder 9, Josh Stoverink 5, David Fluchel 11, Ryan Davis 6, John Bohnsack 11, Lance Seiler 11, Anthony Seabaugh 22. (3-pointers: Bohnsack 2, Seiler 2. Fouled out: none)