LEIPSIC — The Tigers got a hot start and looked primed to steal a road non-league win, but Leipsic rallied with a 26-10 fourth quarter to grab a 56-48 heart-breaker of a win over Holgate Tuesday.
Holgate led by nine after one quarter and 10 at halftime, but couldn’t hold off the Vikings’ pressure in the final frame.
“They’re really athletic, and we knew that coming in,” Holgate coach Bradley Hurst said of Leipsic. “Their press just got us there in the fourth, and I think a little bit of that was that we don’t have that many subs and we got tired. But they did a good job, and you have to give them a lot of credit.”
Bailey Sonnenberg led the Tigers with 12 points, while Sam Medina and Blake Hattemer each added 10. Luke Wenner tallied eight, while Ethan Sparks (four), Gavyn Kupfersmith (two) and Abe Kelly (two) rounded out the Holgate scoring.
Leipsic was led by 13 points each from Drew Liffick and Mason Brandt, while Jaden Siefker, Lorenzo Walther and Dillan Niece each scored seven points.
Fabian Pena chipped in five points for the Vikings, who also got two each from Tyler Sickmiller and Mitchell Lammers to round out the scoring.
The Tigers hit three of their five tries from deep in the first quarter en route to building a 17-8 lead and got a corner three from Medina with five seconds left in the first half to build a 31-21 lead at the break, but Leipsic used a 9-7 run in the third to set up its pivotal comeback in the fourth, despite Holgate getting a buzzer-beating put-back from Kupfersmith to push the lead back to eight.
“They really got into it,” Hurst said of the Vikings’ run to climb back. “They turned up the pressure and they made the guys who didn’t really want the ball have to handle the ball. They took advantage of that.
“Leipsic is so long and big, and in practice we don’t have JV guys who are long and big, so it’s tough to prepare for,” Hurst added. “We’d been working on bounce passes in practice because of that size, and I think you saw with some of those turnovers tonight we got caught trying to go over the top, and you can’t do that against these guys.”
Leipsic hit all three of its three-pointers in the final stanza, the first coming from Brandt to break an 0-9 start from beyond the arc.
From there, the Vikings turned up the pressure with a full-court press, part of a defensive effort that forced 21 Holgate turnovers in the game.
“They really blitzed us with that press at the end,” Hurst said. “Guys just have to step up. This is a learning tool, because a lot of these guys haven’t been in close games, and we just have to learn how to win.”
Wenner fouled out with more than five minutes left in the game, followed shortly thereafter by Sparks and Kupfersmith as Holgate played the final minutes of the game with a short bench.
“I’m really proud of the way these guys fought tonight, especially for the first three quarters,” Hurst said. “They were playing hard all night, we just had some guys in foul trouble that slowed us down. But these guys do everything I ask of them and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
The Tigers finished shooting six of 15 from three and 11 of 14 from the free-throw line, while Leipsic made three of 12 from deep and 23 of 34 from the charity stripe.
Leipsic turned the ball over 11 times in the contest.
Holgate (2-10, 0-3 Green Meadows Conference) hosts GMC rival and former coach Paul Wayne as Tinora invades the Tiger Cage Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Holgate 17 14 7 10 — 48
Leipsic 8 13 9 26 — 56
Holgate — Sonnenberg 1-2-4-12, Wenner 0-2-2-8, Sparks 2-0-4, Kupfersmith 1-0-2, Hattemer 3-4-10, Kelly 1-0-2, Medina 2-2-0-10, Totals — 10-6-10-48.
Leipsic — Brandt 2-2-3-13, Siefker 1-5-7, Liffick 1-1-8-13, Walther 3-1-7, Pena 0-5-5, Sickmiller 1-0-2, Niese 3-1-7, Lammers 1-0-2, Totals — 12-3-23-56.