Fayette and Swanton squared off in a tough, physical match-up in girls basketball last Tuesday at Swanton, and despite a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Bulldogs to tie the game at 46, seven points by the Eagles’ Kaela Seiler in the final 1:12 helped propel them to victory, 55-48.
“We showed some senior leadership down the stretch I thought,” commented Fayette coach Scoop Miller after the game. “Give Swanton a ton of credit, they were behind the eight ball the whole ball game and just kept hanging around. They made that push. But I give our kids credit, once Swanton tied that thing up, I thought we got some good possessions after that.”
One of those key possessions came after Swanton’s Claire Leidigh knotted the score at 46 with a three-point play with 1:22 left in the game. Seiler took ownership for the Eagles, barreling through the Bulldog defense for a bucket. After tacking on a free throw to complete the three-point play of her own, Fayette refused to let Swanton back in the game.
“That was just a heady play,” said Miller of Seiler. “She is someone who has had the experience. She’s been there. She stepped up like you want your seniors to do.”
Fayette’s Taylor Griffiths added a pair of free throws to make it 51-46 with 36 seconds to go, then Swanton’s Sidney Taylor scored but missed at a chance for a three-point play, and four straight from the foul line by Seiler ended it.
Swanton, which fell to a skilled group from Springfield 54-37 the night before, showed a lot of resiliency on the night.
“After playing a good Springfield team last night, I was worried about, obviously, this Fayette game (and) having legs, only because I knew we were gonna be half their size. So on that standpoint, (I’m) real proud of them,” said Bulldog mentor Eric Oakes. “But I think the girls know they did a nice job tonight. But we’ve got to start doing a lot of those little things, just catching the ball, making some better passes, checking out, and then we’ll get better.”
Fayette’s goal defensively in the contest was to hold down Swanton senior standout Kyleigh Ramlow. They did so brilliantly by limiting her to just six points.
“I thought we communicated really well,” said Miller. “We came out and really executed what we wanted to do. We tried to contain Ramlow as much as we can. If you would have told me she was only gonna shoot the ball as many times as she did I wouldn’t have believed you.”
However, Swanton got some key contributions from sophomores Haley Nelson and Taylor, who each scored in double figures. Taylor opened the scoring for the Bulldogs with a three pointer just 35 seconds into the first period, while back-to-back steal and scores from Nelson at the end of the period around a jump shot by Fayette’s Alexis Fruchey made it 15-12 Eagles after one.
“Nelly has been there all year. You can count on her. And then Sid Taylor is just Sid Taylor. We are gonna lean on her for the next three years because when she gets going, she is hard to stop,” said Oakes of the duo.
Fayette led by just two in the early minutes of quarter number two; however, consecutive triples by Griffiths, the second coming with 4:42 left, pushed the Eagle advantage to 24-16.
The Bulldogs then reduced the Eagle lead to six on buckets by Taylor and Leidigh around a basket in the post from Fruchey.
Fayette’s Hannah Machacek split a pair at the line and Seiler added two more, but Taylor’s bucket down low with 31 seconds remaining made it 29-22 at the intermission.
Swanton remained within striking distance in the third quarter as Nelson drew contact on a layup and hit a pair of free throws to cut the Eagle lead to 37-33 at the 1:14 mark. Griffiths’ putback off her own miss 16 seconds later gave the Eagles a six-point edge heading into the fourth.
The Eagles were led by 22 points for Seiler, while Griffiths and Fruchey each finished with 15. Taylor had 17 and Nelson 14 for the Bulldogs.
Swanton returned home on Friday where they defeated Liberty Center 42-35 to move to 1-1 in the NWOAL. The Dogs hit the road this coming Friday when they travel to Wauseon for another league contest.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010