Once again Swanton boys basketball had a game go down to the wire. Despite jumping out early with a 12-0 run, the Bulldogs actually trailed in the fourth quarter before bouncing back in a 44-42 win over Liberty Center in Northwest Ohio Athletic League action Friday.
“We knew this was going to be physical from the start,” said Bulldog coach Joel Visser. “And really, our gameplan was don’t get outphysicaled. We felt like if we could match their thickness, size – their football physicality. And he (LC coach Greg Badenhop) does a nice job with his team and they play hard. If we struggle to put the ball in the bucket, and they are getting easy buckets, rebounds and offensive rebounds, that was gonna be the difference. I thought we did a nice job of matching their physicality.”
The Bulldogs began the fourth quarter with a three point lead, thanks to a Jared Wilson triple at the end of the third. However, the Tigers took charge to start the final stanza.
Camden Krugh knotted the score at 34 with a three 13 seconds in. After Randy Slink went 1 for 2 from the foul line for Swanton, Carter Burdue registered a three-point play to give LC a 37-35 lead.
Wilson then split a pair from the line, but baskets by Conner Sonnenberg and Krugh extended the Tiger lead to five at the 3:15 mark.
Although the Tigers outscored Swanton in the second half, Visser was satisfied with the Dogs’ defense. “They started to set a lot of ball screens in the second half, making our bigs hedge on some guards,” he said. “So we actually went small, and started switching a lot more. Which is a good defensive adjustment on our part. That kind of settled us in.”
Slink would hit a pair from the line while Trent Murdock countered with 1 of 2 for LC, putting the margin at 42-38 with 2:07 remaining. The Dogs then got a big contribution from an unlikely source, when Justyn Bartlett came off the bench and drilled a triple with 1:34 left.
“Bottom line is, you know he was open. If you’re that open, and he knows that his job isn’t to come out and score every night, but he’s got a green light to shoot the wide open shot,” said Visser. “And he was open and knocked it down. I mean it’s got to feel good for his confidence. We need that (for) our sixth man coming off the bench. He needs to feel good about himself and what he’s got to do out there.”
The next time down the floor Slink knocked down a foul line jumper, giving Swanton a 43-42 lead. After an LC turnover, Gilsdorf split from the line to reach the final tally. Krugh missed what would have been a game-winning three as time expired.
In the opening quarter four different Bulldogs scored – including six from Slink – to go ahead 12-0 with 2:48 left. The margin at the quarter break was 14-3.
But, Krugh scored five in the first minute plus of the second around a basket in transition from Wilson, slicing the Swanton lead in half at 16-8. They continued to chip away, as C.J. Spradlin’s three cut it to 19-17 in the final minute of the half. Wilson drew a foul while shooting a trey as time expired, making all three freebies to extend their lead to five at the break.
“We came out like gangbusters and they struggled with our transition early,” said Visser on the first half. “And we got off to a good start. Then we lost track of Krugh for a little bit. He went on a little 6 (or maybe) 7-0 run on his own through some screening action. Give them some credit for making some good adjustments to our transition and just kind of slowing us down.”
Wilson finished with 18 points while Slink added 12 for Swanton. Krugh had 14 for LC.
Swanton (8-10, 2-3 NWOAL) travels to Toledo Christian (14-4) Tuesday before hosting Delta (5-13, 1-4) on Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010