Zibilich nails 3-pointer at buzzer as St. Paul’s edges Northshore

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SLIDELL – As the No. 1 ranked team in the new LHSAA Division I power rankings, St. Paul’s was coming off a tough, one-point loss to Zachary, the top-ranked team in Class 5A, losing to the Broncos on a buzzer beater.

With time running out Tuesday night in Slidell, the Wolves flipped the script.

Senior guard Andrew Zibilich swished a 3-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer to give St. Paul’s a 45-44 victory over Northshore in an absolute thriller in a showdown of the top two teams in District 6-5A.

With 7.6 seconds remaining, Landon Renz converted a layup off a big steal to give the Panthers a 44-42 lead, setting the stage for the dramatic ending.

Zach Fenn took the inbound pass, crossed the timeline and when double-teamed, found Zibilich open for the game-winner.

“That wasn’t the exact play,” Zibilich admitted. “My teammate hit me for an open three. And it just felt good when it left my hand. We knew coming in that this was going to be one of their biggest games of the year. It’s a big game for us, too! We just kept our composure and played well. They (Zachary) had the buzzer beater last time, we got it this game.”

Both teams struggled from the field in the opening quarter as St. Paul’s took a 10-5 lead. Zach Fenn scored all 10 points for the Wolves, who trailed 3-2 before going on an 8-0 run. The Panthers led 3-2 and would not lead again until the fourth quarter, when there were four lead changes.

Landon Renz got hot in the second quarter for the Panthers, scoring eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as Northshore closed within 21-19 of the Wolves.

Northshore tied the game at 21-21 on a pair of free throws by Kohen Rowbatham to open the third quarter before the Wolves went on a 9-0 run to take a 30-21 lead and the lead was 30-25 going to the final quarter. Fenn had seven points in the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, St. Paul’s built a 38-31 lead before Northshore exploded, going on a 9-0 run to lead 40-38 on a layup by James Bridges off a steal as the Panthers extended their defensive pressure, forcing turnovers by the Wolves. St. Paul’s committed 20 turnovers in the game.

Fenn tied it with a pair of free throws at 40-40 before Cade Columbo put the Wolves ahead 42-40 with 47.1 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws.

Bridges then tied it at 42-42 with a layup with 25 seconds left.

Fenn led St. Paul’s with 19 points and six rebounds while Zibilich finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

“You’ve got to give so much credit to Northshore,” St. Paul’s coach Stephen Dale said. “They were the better team, honestly tonight, except for the last seven seconds. I credit my guys for being so composed at the end. They really rattled us in the fourth quarter. That’s seriously uncharacteristic of us. Give them credit. They did that to us. For our guys to settle in and convert at the end says a lot about who we are and the kind of character we have on this team.”

Zachary edged St. Paul’s 55-54 last Saturday on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Tyler Brown, the first lead of the game for the Broncos.

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, right?” Dale said. “It’s funny. That’s the way basketball works. We were that exact same situation Saturday night, on the wrong end of it. Tonight, we battled and we were on the right side of it. We had a lot of confidence in Andrew to take that shot and credit to Zach for giving that ball up. He recognized he had a teammate open, found him and he hit a big shot.”

Renz led the Panthers with 16 points, Rowbatham had 13 points and Bridges had 10 points and seven rebounds.

“Offensively, we weren’t at our best,” Northshore coach Josh Carlin said. “We had some missed opportunities early in the game. We minimized out turnovers late in the second half. I really felt like our  shot selection was pretty good overall. We had to rely on our defense to create some opportunities. We started trapping and kind of got them uncomfortable.

“Unfortunately, we lost sight of their really good shooters. He made us pay for it. Credit St. Paul’s. They are a really good basketball team, very disciplined and sound. We had them on the ropes. They’ll win a lot of playoff games. Hopefully, we’ll be able to build on this performance.”

The win completed a district sweep of St. Paul’s over the Panthers. The Wolves won at home over Northshore 69-61 on Jan. 14.

Both teams return to district play Friday night. The Wolves (23-6, 11-0) will host Mandeville while the Panthers (21-6, 8-3), who entered the game seventh in the Class 5A power rankings, travel to Hammond.

FINAL

St. Paul’s      10    11    9    15 —  45
Northshore   5     14    6    19  — 44

Scoring:

St. Paul’s—Zach Fenn 19, Andrew Zibilich 15, Cade Columbo 5, Reeece Seicsnaydre 2, Jeremy Autin 2, Brady Bollinger 2
Northshore—Landon Renz 16, Kohen Rowbatham 13, James Bridges 10, Fabian Hartley Jr. 3, Dawson Knox 2

Rebounds:

St. Paul’s—29
Northshore—28

Turnovers:

St. Paul’s—20
Northshore—13

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