In a series renewed in 2017, county rivals Napoleon and Tinora took to the hardwood in front of a packed house at Tinora High School.
Although the series has been one-sided, 8-1 Napoleon all-time, the lone Ram win coming at the old Alan Moore Gymnasium in 2017, both teams played as if they were decades old rivals.
Tinora coming in 2-1, off a huge road with at Delta, while the Wildcats of Napoleon also with a road with at Maumee last night entered the young season at 1-1.
The first quarter saw an up and down pace, Tinora lead by as many as five before Napoleon cut the Rams lead to one after the initial quarter, 16-15. Gavin Eckert with six in the first for Tinora.
The Second quarter saw much of the same, both teams with a fast pace on offense, but a very physical game as well on both sides of the ball on defense. The Rams added to their lead as both teams headed to the half, Tinora with a 31-24 lead.Josh Mack lead the ‘Cats with 12 in the half, Eckert led Tinora with 9.
Both offenses kept up the fast pace in the third quarter ad the physical play intensified. Each squad bucketed 14 points in the third stanza, Tinora exited with a 45-38 lead as teams headed to the fourth. Tinora led by as many as eight, 34-26.
Napoleon head coach Chad Bostelman turned the dial up a notch on Wildcat defense to start the final quarter. The Wildcats scored the first eight points of the fourth, grabbing a one point lead, 46-45. Tinora senior Nolan Schafer came right back and nailed a three to put the Rams on top 48-46 with just under five minutes remaining.
Over the next four minutes, both teams battled back and forth as they would in the trenches on the football field. Eckert and Mack battling all night long in the post certainly added to the intensity. A Luke Harris three from the left corner gave Tinora a 51-48 lead with 3:58 remaining.
A Kaleb Woods steal and dunk cut the Tinora lead to just one, 51-50 with just over three minutes in the contest.
Unfortunately for the Rams, they would just score two more points over the next 2:43. A Tanner Rubinstein put back gave Napoleon their first lead since the first quarter, 52-51. What followed was a Tinora turnover, then a Josh Mack runner put the Wildcats up 54-51 with 1:30 remaining.
Rams junior Luke Harris hit two free throws, cutting the ‘Cats lead to 54-53 at the 1:18 mark. Tinora sent Napoleon senior Drew Grant to the free throw line for three straight one and one attempts. Grant missed two straight free throws, finally hitting the third, giving Napoleon a 55-53 lead with 28 seconds remaining.
Rams senior Nolan Schafer was fouled driving to the basket with 15 seconds remaining. Uncharacteristically, Schafer missed the front end of the one and one, Nolan entered the game shooting 96% from the line. (this announcer jinxed Nolan, unfortunately)
Napoleon senior Blake Wolf sealed the game with two free throws with 6 seconds remaining, giving the Wildcats a come from behind win over Tinora, 57-53.
Napoleon outscored the Rams 18-8 in the final quarter.
Tinora fall to 2-2, the Rams travel to take on Holgate in a non-conference game on 12/11.
Napoleon improves to 2-1 with the win, and will host Wauseon in their home opener.
A great crowd saw a fantastic, electric game.
Napoleon 15 9 14 19 57
Tinora 16 15 13 8 53
Luke Harris – 14
Nolan Schafer – 12
Eric Bohn – 10
Gavin Eckert – 9
Lance Rinkel – 3
Cole Anders – 3
Eli Plassman – 2
Blake Wolf -18
Josh Mack- 18
Tanner Rubinstein – 9
Kaleb Woods – 6
Caden Kruse – 4
Drew Grant – 1