(Brent Shipman ~ Standard-Democrat)
ORAN, Mo. -- With a chance to back Leopold in a corner in the final seconds with a pair of free throws, Oran saw the moment slip away when it missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity.
The Wildcats would not squander such a chance.
Leopold capitalized with a couple shots from the charity stripe that proved to be the game-winners in a 48-46 victory Friday night.
"Obviously, I would have liked for it to have ended a little bit different," Oran coach Joe Shoemaker said. "But two teams battled their butts off tonight. It just kind of came down to the way the ball bounced there at the end. Can't fault my kids; they played hard."
Neither team shot particularly well in the game, but it was the Wildcats (17-2) who found a way to control the first half and take a 28-23 lead into the break.
Oran (17-3) warmed up slightly in the second half, with Kody Moore starting the third quarter with back-to-back baskets to tie the score.
Neither team was able to separate more than three points the rest of the way as the lead changed hands numerous times.
The score was tied 44-44 with 1 minute, 10 seconds to play when Brandon Jansen put the Wildcats up with a tip-in. Oran pulled even when Seth Ressel sank a pair of free throws with 34 seconds remaining.
Leopold then looked to be setting up for a final shot, but Ressel thwarted the plan with a steal. He was fouled in the backcourt with 6.4 seconds to play and went to the charity stripe with a chance to put Oran ahead.
Ressel, who already had converted 6 of 6 free throws in the period, saw his free throw rim off and grabbed by Leopold's Cameron Davis, who was immediately fouled.
"We weren't in a foul situation right there," Shoemaker said. "It was just a guy trying to make a play on a ball, and I can't fault anybody for that right there."
Both teams were in the bonus at that point. Davis' first attempt looked much like Ressel's, but the carom fell back through the hoop to break the tie. Davis sank his second attempt for a two-point cushion.
Oran inbounded with more than six seconds remaining and struggled to move the ball up the court. The Eagles ultimately attempted a shot at the buzzer that fell short from a few feet behind the 3-point line.
"Cameron stepped up and made some huge free throws," Leopold coach Andy Beck said. "That's something we've been struggling with, and we knew coming down the stretch one of these games it's either going to cost us or we're going to step up when the time comes."
Ressel led the Eagles with 13 points, six assists, six rebounds and four steals. Ressel entered the fourth quarter with just three points, but he scored six of the Eagles' first eight points in the period to keep the Eagles in striking distance.
Hunter Schlosser followed with 12 points, while Moore finished with 11.
Oran was 17 of 48 (35 percent) from the field, including a 4 of 17 from behind the arc.
"We didn't do a very good job there at the end," Shoemaker said. "They guarded pretty well and have some quickness up top and some length. I think their length and size kind of bugged us tonight on a lot of our shots."
Leopold's Kyle Stroder scored 10 of his game-high 21 points during the fourth quarter. Davis and Brandon Jansen both had 11 points.
Beck praised his team's defense against Oran, which had scored more than 60 points in each of its previous 10 games.
Oran's three leading scorers -- Moore, Ressel and Alex Heuring -- had combined for 71 points against Scott County Central a week earlier. Leopold held the trio to 30 points.
"We had our work cut out for us," Beck said. "But I thought we played at a level above what we've been playing all year, and that's what we've been needing. There were stretches where [Oran] tried to run, but we've been working all week on trying to slow them down."
LEOPOLD (48) -- Austin Busher 3, Kyle Stroder 21, Cameron Davis 11, Ethan Broshius 2, Brandon Jansen 11. FG 19, FT 8-14, F 16. (3-pointers: Busher 1, Stroder 1. Fouled out: none.)
ORAN (46) -- Kody Moore 11, Seth Ressel 13, Jacob Priggel 4, Hunter Schlosser 12, Alex Heuring 6. FG 17, FT 8-11, F 16. (3-pointers: Moore 3, Ressel 1. Fouled out: Moore.)