After a rough offensive performance in the first half in which they committed a bevy of turnovers, Swanton made some halftime adjustments and even managed to grab the lead in the fourth quarter against Bryan Friday. However, the Golden Bears held them off down the stretch for a 43-41 victory in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball.
“I thought we played particularly well in the second half,” said Swanton coach Joel Visser. “I was disappointed with our first half performance offensively. We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball and valuing each and every possession.”
The Bulldogs trailed 21-14 at the half but hit three three-pointers in the third period, outscoring Bryan 15-11 in the frame. Their last trey came from Jared Wilson to pull them within 32-29 going into the fourth.
Although Bryan scored first in the fourth with a jumper from Peyton Lamberson, Swanton fired back with Hunter Mix’s putback hoop, Randy Slink on a nifty backcut, and Mix with a drive and score to give them a 35-34 lead with 4:27 remaining. It was the Bulldogs’ first lead since they were up 2-0 23 seconds into the contest.
“We discussed breaking the press and made a few small adjustments and stressed rebounding,” said Visser, referring to his team’s halftime adjustments. “We also finished with talking about wanting and taking care of the ball while staying in attack mode.”
On the next Bryan possession Lamberson drew a foul and split a pair at the foul line to knot the score. The Dogs would come up empty on the ensuing possession, and Conner Lemons of Bryan scored at the other end, putting them back on top at 37-35 with 3:34 left.
Two free throws for Lamberson made it 39-35 a minute later, but Slink responded quickly with a deuce for the Dogs.
However, Slink would foul out when he hacked Zhane Cupp of Bryan with 46 seconds left. Cupp split a pair, then Lemons hit two free throws with 26 ticks to go to put the score at 42-37.
“We were in foul trouble and they did a nice job of trying to get looks inside and getting to the free throw line late,” explained Visser. “Their senior guards did a nice job of attacking the rim and making some key free throws down the stretch.”
Wilson hit two from the line for Swanton, then Lamberson split a pair to keep the margin at four with 10 seconds to go.
The Dogs had one last chance and they made it count, as Zach Bloom got a putback hoop and drew a foul with just three seconds remaining. Following a timeout, the coaching staff wisely instructed him to miss the free throw and Josh Vance grabbed the offensive board in the low block. However, the freshman’s shot barely grazed the front iron as the final horn sounded.
Despite the loss, there were a lot of positives that Visser and the Bulldogs can take from this one.
“I really like our team. We have had a really good couple weeks,” said Visser. “Practices have been good and we are starting to make some shots and finish at the rim. We are extremely young but are beginning to turn the corner and it’s only a matter of time until what we are doing translates to “w’s”.
“We have talked about getting one percent better everyday and embracing the grind and the process until the process starts loving us back. I am optimistic and I believe we have a chance to get some good wins and make some noise down the stretch.”
Swanton (5-8, 0-2 NWOAL) travels to Fayette Tuesday, Evergreen Friday and Genoa on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010