Curtis Engelbrecht never quit.
The Northland Lutheran senior didn’t know how much time was left on the clock and he made up the last second play on the fly. When his first shot didn’t fall, he charged to the basket, got the rebound and got the putback to fall through with .02 seconds left to clinch a 59-57 win to open the season in a Marawood Conference game Tuesday.
“I just didn’t want to lose,” said Engelbrecht, who finished with 12 points. “I had no clue how much time was left when I took the shot. I just wanted it to go in the hoop. We never gave up and played till the last second.”
The victory already matches the number of conference wins that the Wildcats had last year. Northland Lutheran had eight wins overall.
Assumption led after all three quarters but ran out of steam, according to Royals coach Gary Weisenbeck.
“In the end they wanted it more than we did,” Weisnbebeck said. “All five of their guys played harder than we did and I think their top five were in better shape than our seven or eight. The toughest thing about this is we have a conference loss right away.
“We needed overtime to beat them up there and we won by two points at our place so we didn’t take them lightly.”
The Wildcats took their first lead of the game — since a 7-6 lead in the first quarter — with 3 minutes, 57 seconds left in the fourth on a shot jump shot from Engelbrecht.
The lead changed or tied three times before Northland Lutheran forced a turnover with 45 seconds left and called a time out with the game tied at 57-57.
The Wildcats played for the last shot, which worked in their favor.
“Wins have been hard to come by the past few years, so to start the season with a win feels great,” Engelbrecht said.
Weisenbeck said that that his young squad has plenty to work on between now and Monday’s game at Edgar.
“Last year our problem was rebounding and here we go again. We didn’t rebound tonight and we didn’t stop their penetration to the basket. We have to get better rebounding and on defense in a hurry.”
Leading scorers: NL, Curtis Engelbrecht 12, Tim Venus 10, Michael Krueger 20, Danny Worden 12, Jacob Price 2, Noah Panzer 3.A, Josh Paltz 23, Chase Lamp 19, Jared Haas 4, Brady Baltus 3, Kolt Linzmeier Nathaniel Clark 2, Andy Eichinger 2. Free throws: NL 5-9; A 16-23.
Records: NL 1-0, 1-0 Marawood South; A 0-1, 0-1.