In the first half, Napoleon junior Caden Kruse kept the Wildcats in the game.
With 20 seconds left, he came up with the game winner on a stickback in transition for a 44-42 Wildcat win over Wauseon Saturday in boys basketball.
Napoleon evened their record at 3-3.
The Indians fell to 3-2.
Kruse had a hoop off a steal, scored on a spin move and hit 2-2 from the free throw line to give Napoleon an early 6-2 lead.
The Indians roared back with a 12-0 run to take a 14-9 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.
Landon Hines led the outburst with a putback off his own miss that turned into a three-point play, a dish to Tyson Rodriguez that also materialized into an ‘and-1’ hoop, then another second-chance hoop before Kruse drained a triple to end the flurry.
Kruse knocked down a fast break bucket and a rebound hoop as he tallied up the first 13 Napoleon points to bring the Cats to a one-point deficit at 14-13.
After a Rodriguez’ radar range triple, Kruse knotted the score at 17-all with a pair from the line.
Again Wauseon went on a run, this one 11-4 to finish the half, that began when Ethan Borton forced in a jumper from the key, and ended on Jack Leatherman’s right-wing three-ball that beat the first half buzzer for a 28-21 Indian lead.
Kruse’ coast-to-coast hoop brought the Wildcats within 32-28 with 4:23 left in the third but Leatherman responded with back-to-back hoops to push Wauseon back up eight.
Finally Kruse got some help on the offensive end as Kellen Ressler canned a triple, then Trey Rubinstein got consecutive buckets to get Napoleon again within a point at 36-35.
Rodriguez’ basket to finish the third and one from Jude Armstrong to start the fourth gave Wauseon a 40-35 advantage with 6:07 left; however, that would be the last time the Indians found the bottom of the net for the next four and a half minutes.
Meanwhile Napoleon drew within a point again.
Rubinstein scored on a third chance at the rim, then Kruse’ throw down after a Wauseon turnover made it 40-39 at the 4:47 mark.
Over two minutes later, Parker Woods put the Wildcats in the lead with a left corner triple with 2:14 left.
Hines’ spin to the rack with 1:33 to go tied the score.
After a Napoleon miss with a minute left, Wauseon worked the clock for a last shot but Rubinstein picked a pass and headed the opposite dirrection.
Rubinstein’s contested shot was off but Kruse was there for the cleanup hoop with 20 ticks left for the game winner as Wauseon didn’t get a clean look in the last couple seconds.
Kruse had 22 points to lead all scorers. Rubinstein added 12.
Rodriguez led Wauseon with 14 while Leatherman had 11.
After committing 12 first half turnovers, Napoleon ended with 17. Wauseon had 16 miscues, including six in the final eight minutes.
Neither team shot it well.
Wauseon was 17-47 from the floor, and Napoleon was 18-51.