OSSIAN – The Leo boys basketball program has not enjoyed much success at The Castle.
Before this weekend, the Lions had won on the Norwell Knights' home floor just once during coach Cary Cogdell's 18 years at Leo, last winning in 2015.
The Lions (8-1, 2-0 NE8) bucked the trend and claimed a 62-55 conference win over Norwell on Saturday, but Cogdell said that was far from a foregone conclusion during much of the second half.
“In the second half we had some leads and they kept coming at us, and it was tight the whole way. It was a game where every possession mattered,” Cogdell said. “I'm just glad we came out with a win here.”
Senior Ayden Ruble's basket moments before the buzzer gave the Lions a 24-22 halftime lead, and senior Caedmon Bontrager opened the second half with an old-fashioned 3-point play. The Knights (8-3, 1-1) struggled to keep the 6-foot-8 Bontrager away from the basket, and 4-0 run by the senior later in the third gave Leo a nine-point lead, its largest of the game, at 35-26.
Bontrager finished with a team-high 16 points and 12 rebounds. His fellow big man DJ Allen finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
“We wanted to work on stopping the 3-point shot for Norwell, that was our main goal,” Bontrager said. “And then on offense, going inside to me and DJ. I thought we did that well, and then our guards getting more involved, that really helped.”
Sophomore Trey Hiteshew finished with 10 points for the Lions, and sophomore Jackson McGee and senior Brody Hiteshew each scored nine.
Although Leo's offensive game plan went largely according to form, stopping the Norwell offense was as difficult as anticipated. The Knights hit seven 3-pointers, including two in the fourth quarter (the first, by Lleyton Bailey, cut Leo's lead to 48-47, although the Lions then went on a 9-0 run). Four of those treys came in the first quarter, including a buzzer-beater shot from behind the half court line by junior Luke McBride that gave the Knights a 13-11 lead heading into the second quarter.
McBride finished with 29 points after going 14 of 14 at the free-throw line and 6 of 12 from the field.
“We did a good job (guarding) him other than the fact that we fouled him too much,” Cogdell said. “You've got to credit him, he's a really good player, and he's smart. Knows how to play the game, knows how to draw fouls.”
Junior Lleyton Bailey scored 11 points for the Knights and junior Brody Bolyn led the team with nine rebounds.
See a video
To see a video about the Leo-Norwell game, click on this URL -- https://vimeo.com/663878092