TOLEDO – Swanton kicked off its tournament season against Cardinal Stritch Friday, and despite the absence of key player Robbie Gilsdorf, the Bulldogs managed to dominate in the first tournament game of the season, beating the Cardinals by a score of 60-36.
The Division III sectional title was the second straight for the Bulldogs.
“I was very pleased with our mindset going into the game and how we came out,” said Swanton coach Matt Smith. “We were very focused and the team did everything we asked them to do. We will need this to continue this next week to have success in the district tournament.”
Swanton set the tone early, exploding to a 7-0 lead two minutes into the quarter. Junior Gunnar Oakes, who led the team with 25 points, had 8 points in the first quarter alone. Senior Bryce McComb landed a three pointer for the Bulldogs, and Terrance Taylor had the only points in the quarter for the Cardinals.
The Dogs transitioned their momentum from the first to second quarter flawlessly, dominating all throughout the first half. Oakes capitalized on this momentum with a pair of back-to-back slam dunks, and McComb had three three point shots, stretching the Bulldogs lead to 20 points, and ending the half with a score of 31-11.
The defense was also key for Swanton.
“We talked about limiting their scorer. Their point guard averages about 16 ppg and we did a phenomenal job not letting him have any good looks,” said Smith. “Mark Lair was outstanding on defense at the top of our zone. He didn’t score a point until he hit a pair of free throws with a about a minute left in the game versus our bench.”
Coming out of halftime, the tone of the game stayed the same, with the Bulldogs dominating on both sides of the court. This quarter Antonio Cervantes and Duyane Goings both contributed to the Bulldogs score, while Jeff Dunsmore and Trent Besgrne had a pair of three pointers for the Cardinals.
In the fourth quarter the Bulldogs retained their dominant style, never losing the lead for the entire game. Oakes led the team with 25 points, and McComb followed him with 18.
After the game, when asked how the team has adapted to Robbie Gilsdorf absence, Oakes said, “we all had to step up, its definitely devastating to lose a point guard, but we’ve found a way to win.”
“Bryce took care of the basketball (6 assists/2 turnovers) and Gunnar hurt them inside and in transition,” said Smith. “We used are size and strength to overwhelm and that is exactly what we needed to do.”
The Bulldogs continue their tournament run this Thursday when they face Genoa in the district semifinal at Central Catholic High School. Tip off is set for 6:15 p.m. Swanton won the previous meeting between the teams, 59-57 on Jan. 23.
Sam Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org