NAPOLEON – Brett Lauf hit a fade-a-way 15-foot jumper with one second remaining to lift host Napoleon over Wayne Trace 61-59 in non-league boys basketball action at the Grand Canyon on Saturday night.

After calling timeout with 37 seconds remaining with the game tied at 59-59, Napoleon coach Joe Good decided to play for one shot. Lauf turned that into a smart decision as the senior guard drove towards the basket before pulling up and fading away for the game winning shot.

“He made a great play,” said Raider head coach Jim Linder. “He is a very, very good basketball player and he stepped up and made a great play there at the end. It was a tremendous game between two very quality teams and they made one more play than we did.”

Wayne Trace had its chances, but wasn’t able to capitalize. The Raiders missed a dozen free throws in the game, hitting 18 of 30 attempts.

“We missed a lot of free throws tonight,” said Linder. “I don’t know if it was fatigue or what the reason was but we can’t miss that many, especially against good basketball teams.”

Trailing 52-50 at the end of three quarters, a pair of Jake Kuhn free throws knotted the score at 52-52. After a Lauf basket put the Wildcats back on top 54-52, an Ethan Linder 3-pointer put Wayne Trace back on top 55-54.

Ethan Linder then added one of two foul shots to make it 56-54 Raiders before a Reid Sonnenberg bucket tied the game at 56-56. Wayne Trace took its final lead of the contest at 57-56 after Linder again split a pair of free throws but a Landon Willemann trey put Napoleon back on top 59-57. Linder responded for the Raiders with two foul shots to set up Lauf’s game winner.

“It was a tough week with three games in five days,” said the Raider head coach. “But playing games like this will only help us down the line. It is good to play good teams. It gives our players a little bit of what a tournament atmosphere will be like and helps us prepare for that. We never want to lose but we can build off of tonight.”

The Raiders jumped in front 26-18 after one quarter as Jake Kuhn, who finished with 15 points in the contest, scored 11 first quarter points for Wayne Trace.

Napoleon tied the game at 32-32 midway through the second quarter after a Lauf trey and a Sonnenberg basket before Wayne Trace answered. Two Eli Sinn buckets, a basket by Josh Kuhn and a pair of Jon Sinn free throws helped Wayne Trace post a 40-35 advantage at halftime.

“I thought we did a nice job in the first half,” said Jim Linder. “We just didn’t seem to have the same intensity there in the second half, whether it was fatigue or just the physicalness of the game I’m not sure. It is something we can learn and get better from though.”

Lauf finished the night with 22 points to lead the Wildcats while Sonnenberg added 14 points. Willemann chipped in a dozen points for Napoleon. Sonnenberg also had 11 rebounds for the Wildcats, who outrebounded Wayne Trace 31-27.

Ethan Linder paced Wayne Trace with 22 points while adding seven rebounds, eight assists and five steals. However, the bigger concern is his health as the senior standout suffered a lower back injury on a charge in the fourth quarter. The severity of the injury was not immediately known.

Eli Sinn chipped in 11 for the Raiders and Jon Sinn topped Wayne Trace with eight boards.

Wayne Trace’s junior varsity posted a 51-42 win over the Wildcats behind 20 points from Trae Sinn.

The Raiders return to Green Meadows Conference action on Thursday when Edgerton visits the Palace. Wayne Trace travels to Delphos Jefferson on Saturday in non-league action.