With the hosts’ lead, which had been 12 early in the fourth quarter, shaved to just 50-47 by the late-rallying Tigers, the Panthers’ Will Stueve missed the front end of a one-and-one at 44 seconds showing.
A blocked-out Zurcher, though, managed to tip the offensive rebound long to Braxton Linville.
Jonathan Wilkinson turned that saved possession into a basket with 32 seconds remaining, and then Zurcher added a steal at 23 seconds, leading to Linville hitting a pair of free throws at 21 seconds as NorthWood closed with authority.
"We needed the ball, and that was the only way to get the ball," Zurcher said of his pivotal board. "They boxed me out pretty well, but I was able to tip it out. I knew somebody would be back there for us. I wasn’t sure we’d get it, but I thought it was our best chance."
"That was a killer," Warsaw coach Doug Ogle said of Zurcher's free-lancing maneuver. "That's an athletic play. He's bigger and way more athletic than (Jake) Mangas, who's trying to block him out. It was a long rebound and he touched it out. There's not much you can do. It was a good play by Zurcher."
The Class 3A No. 7-rated Panthers improved to 12-1 overall and stayed a game behind Northridge in the Northern Lakes Conference at 4-1. The Tigers dropped to 9-5 and 2-2.
Warsaw was playing minus its No. 2 scorer and top rebounder on the season, Rashaan Jackson.
Ogle said afterwards that Jackson and fellow junior Nick Sands, a reserve, will "more than likely" sit out another nine games each due to athletic code violations. The Tigers have just six games left in their regular season.
"It makes a difference," Ogle said of moving forward without Jackson, who had been hot of late. "(Tonight was) almost a starting point for us. It's the group we're going to be playing with the rest of the season, so I was proud of how we competed, but NorthWood's good. They're real good. We're just finding our way, so all things considered, I'm not discouraged."
"I felt like we were on the struggle bus coming into this game," Panther coach Aaron Wolfe said, alluding to some missed practice time due to the recent weather. "It was a week of adversity not only for our team, but every team. I felt conditioning and mental focus were things that came into play, but in an NLC game, with the circumstances, I felt our guys were very solid tonight."
"That had a lot to do with our senior leadership," Wilkinson, one of four senior starters, said of how the Panthers were able to close out the contest after being threatend. "We've got a lot of seniors and that helps us in the long run. We've been there before, and some of them haven't gone our way."
Wilkinson scored 14 points and was 5-of-7 from the field with a 3-pointer.
Zurcher, who's been a marksman nearly all season, went 8-of-12 from the field. He was perfect on his two trey tries and four free-throw tries.
"I thought our basketball team showed unselfishness, and I felt Braxton Linville showed up strong again," Wolfe said of his sophomore point guard. "He had (a game-high) eight assists and one turnover. That's a good performance from a point guard."
NorthWood's largest lead was the 29-16 spread it held at halftime, that coming after the Tigers had jumped to a 5-0 advantage in the opening 77 seconds.
The Panthers went up 10-9 midway through the first quarter and led the rest of the way.
They were up 45-33 with 6:33 left in the fourth period, but Warsaw battled to the 50-47 count with 1:22 remaining on a basket by Mangas.
That was followed by NorthWood nearly committing a third straight turnover, but Stueve scrambled for the loose ball and successfully signaled while on the ground for a timeout with 58 seconds left.
Fourteen seconds later, Zurcher navigated for the tip-out rebound.
Senior Jordan Stookey led the Tigers with 16 points. Mangas, a junior, added 13.
The sharp-shooting Panthers finished at 61 percent from the field and 85 percent at the line on 11-of-13.
Warsaw countered with 49 percent from the field and just 4-of-8 at the line, but drained five 3-pointers.
NORTHWOOD 54, WARSAW 47
Warsaw — Jake Mangas 6-10 1-3 13, Tim Swanson 3-5 0-0 7, Jordan Stookey 6-11 2-3 16, Nate Pearl 2-6 0-0 6, Paul Marandet 1-3 1-2 3, Peyton Long 0-1 0-0 0, Cameron Hoskins 0-1 0-0 0, Riley Rhoades 0-1 0-0 0, Moses Marandet 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 19-39 (.487) 4-8 (.500) 47.
NorthWood — Zach Zurcher 8-12 4-4 22, Jonathan Wilkinson 5-7 3-4 14, Will Stueve 3-5 0-1 6, Tanner Farmwald 2-3 0-0 4, Braxton Linville 1-4 4-4 6, Kyle McCoy 0-1 0-0 0, Dakiyron Fox 1-1 0-0 2, Travis Bear 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-33 (.606) 11-13 (.846) 54.
Scoring By Quarters
Warsaw — 12 4 17 14— 47
NorthWood — 17 12 12 13 — 54
3-point goals: Warsaw (5-10) — Stookey 2-4, P. Marandet 2-4, Swanson 1-1; NorthWood (3-9) — Zurcher 2-2, Wilkinson 1-2.
Rebounds: Warsaw (16) — Mangas 4, P. Marandet 4, Stookey 3; NorthWood (20) — Zurcher 7, Stueve 3.
Assists: Warsaw (12) — P. Marandet 5, Stookey 3; NorthWood (14) — Linville 8, Wilkinson 3, Farmwald 3.
Steals: Warsaw (2) — Mangas, Stookey 1 each; NorthWood (5) — Zurcher, Farmwald, Linville, McCoy, Fox 1 each.
Turnovers: Warsaw 9, NorthWood 8.
Total fouls: Warsaw 13, NorthWood 13. Fouled out — none.
Officials: Dan Messina, Beau Dufee, Holt Edinger.
Records: Warsaw 9-5 (2-2 NLC), NorthWood 12-1 (4-1 NLC).
Next: Warsaw at Concord, West Noble at NorthWood, both Tuesday, Feb. 4.
JV: NorthWood 53, Warsaw 38. Top scorers: NorthWood— Vincent Miranda 14, Chad Sellers 11, Dakiyron Fox 9, Trey Bilinski 8; Warsaw — Kyle Mangas 12, Lucas Cone 8. JV records: NorthWood 12-1, Warsaw 10-2.