TOLEDO – How important is losing a three-year starting point guard during the most critical time of the year?
Swanton lost senior floor leader Robbie Gilsdorf to a season-ending foot injury just before the end of the regular season and without the standout guard, dropped a 46-43 decision to Genoa in a Division III district semifinal contest at Central Catholic Thursday night.
Without Gilsdorf, the Bulldog offense was slightly disjointed.
Gunnar Oakes, who scored 33 in a mid-season victory over the Comets, rarely got a first quarter touch as the Comets lumbered to a 6-4 lead.
That lead expanded to 12-4 on Andrew Bench’s foul line jumper and fellow freshman Jacob Platz’ three-ball from the left of the top of the key.
Swanton answered back with an 8-0 run capped by back-to-back hoops from Oakes on a power move from the mid key and a turnaround jumper at the 3:31 mark of the half.
Swanton grabbed a 16-14 lead late in the quarter when Mark Lair found Oakes on a back side lob for a score but Platz answered with 1:19 left on the clock, putting back his own miss to knot the score.
Duyane Goings’ free throw with 45 seconds left gave the Bulldogs a slim 17-16 halftime lead.
Oakes got the Bulldogs back in front at 22-20 with a lean and bank, then a score off a Lair feed on an out-of-bounds play.
“Mark did a nice job finding people,” Swanton coach Matt Smith said. “He got the ball to people where they could do something with it. With the situation we were in without Robbie, I thought he did an admirable job.”
However, Genoa came back and past the Bulldogs on back-to-back triples from Sam Sutter, then Platz to retake a 28-25 lead with 3:07 left in the quarter.
Swanton grabbed a one-point lead when Bryce McComb hit a fade away jumper that fell with just over two to go in the third to make it 29-28, but the Comets had a solution to that when Josiah Bradfield pump faked and scored, then turned the play into a three-point play from the foul line to close the quarter as Genoa reclaimed a 34-31 lead.
The Bulldogs hung close and came back to tie at 39 on Oakes one plus the bonus from the line with 3:39 left.
Swanton then took one final lead when Goings converted both from the foul stripe with 2:19 left to push the Bulldogs up 43-41.
Bench got into the key during the Comets next possession and missed but Platz was there for the clean up score that turned into a three-point play and a 44-43 Genoa lead.
Oakes got into the paint the Bulldogs next possession but had his shot blocked by Platz.
Matt Bradfield missed the first of the bonus from the line with 1:34 left but a Swanton lane violation gave him a second chance which he cashed in on both to make it 46-43.
A series of turnovers gave the ball back to the Bulldogs late but a five second violation returned the rock to Genoa with 32.4 to go.
Forced to foul the Bulldogs sent Bench to the stripe, but the freshman missed the front end of the bonus and Swanton had a last chance to tie.
Three straight misses from beyond the arc left the ball rolling in front of the Swanton bench where Smith was frantically trying to call time out.
Finally getting a timeout granted and not hearing the whistle, Oakes fired in the triple that would have tied the game with :00.3 left.
After resetting the clock to 1.2 seconds the Bulldogs ran an out-of-bounds play which McComb’s three was tipped by Josiah Bradfield to end the game.
“It’s a tough loss and I’m really disappointed for the team and the seniors,” Smith said after. “But they can hang their hat on what they accomplished, a 20 win season for the first time in more than 30 years.”
Platz and Oakes were the only double figure scorers in the game, Platz with 17 and Oakes 14.
Swanton leaves the tournament at 20-4.
Joe Blystone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org