SYLVANIA – Consecutive three-point plays from Sylvania Southview’s Ryan Fries in the third quarter pushed a four point advantage to 10, and Swanton could get no closer as they fell to the Cougars in the championship of their holiday tournament, 61-48, Tuesday night.
“It turned the tide of the game for sure,” said Swanton coach Matt Smith of the effort from Fries. “Those were big momentum killers for us. We had just called timeout and said hey, let’s dig down and get some stops. Sure enough they come out and hit those two in a row. We panicked a little bit.”
The Bulldogs stayed neck-and-neck with the Cougars for most of the way, taking the lead by one following Bryce McComb’s jump shot to begin the game, a three from Southview’s Matt Schaffer, Mark Lair’s corner triple for Swanton and Swanton’s Zach Dziengelewski’s bucket inside around a three for Fries. This made it 7-6 at the 4:13 mark of the opening period.
Another triple for the Cougars, this time by Will Wooddall, and a pair of buckets from Fries and Swanton’s Gunnar Oakes kept Southview on top by two with around three minutes left. McComb hit a pair of free throws for Swanton to tie the score at 11, however, Southview’s Jason Johnson scored inside to put his team ahead by a deuce after one.
The Bulldogs used their inside game and surprising size advantage to garner the lead in the beginning of the second quarter as Devin Jones scored three straight times in the post around Keyan Marshall’s bucket inside for the Cougars. Then, after a layup by Wooddall re-tied the score, Swanton got a midrange jumper from Robbie Gilsdorf to take the lead at 19-17 with 3:47 left in the half.
Fries’ long range bomb quickly made the Bulldog advantage disappear, then McComb split a pair from the foul line, Southview’s Nate Kalniz converted a floater in the lane and one of two at the line from Johnson made it 23-20 Cougars with 1:14 to go.
Swanton retained possession in the closing seconds as they got it to Lair who dribbled to the right side and fired an NBA-range three that went in as the quarter horn sounded and the score was tied at the half.
However, things would change for the worse for the Dogs after the break. The difference was a 16-6 run the Cougars went on in the first 6:18 of the third period.
Schaffer got the Cougars started with a jumper and then a four-point play when he was hit while drilling a three to make it 29-23 at the 5:24 mark. Oakes scored on an inbound play to end the mini Cougar run, but buckets by Fries and Schaffer pushed their advantage to eight.
Gilsdorf then scored on a drive to the hoop and Oakes added a bucket off an assist from Gilsdorf, prompting a timeout by Smith to gather his troops for the stretch run.
But, with the Southview advantage at 33-29, Fries cashed in consecutive three-point plays to put them up 10 with 1:42 remaining in the third and the Dogs could not get within single digits the rest of the way.
“I thought Southview played really hard on defense,” stated Smith. “They were in our face on every shot. For a D-I school they didn’t have a lot of size, but they made up (for) it with some grit and toughness.”
A layup and score on a fastbreak by Marshall, and Gilsdorf’s three-point play for the Dogs closed out the third quarter with the Cougars leading 43-32.
Southview kept their foot on the gas in the fourth as they built their lead to as much as 19 points.
Gilsdorf finished with 12 points for Swanton, Lair chipped in with 10, Oakes added eight and McComb finished with seven. Fries had 22 and Schaffer 14 to lead Southview.
But despite the defeat on Tuesday, Swanton did take pleasure in defeating a talented team from Toledo Central Catholic by a final of 55-47 in the tournament semifinal on Monday.
“I am proud of our kids effort. There is no doubt about it,” concluded Smith. “I am hoping this will spring us forward. I think we’ve got some tough games coming up that will be tough, but I think we got some chances to go on a run here. Hopefully the new year will be good to us.”
Swanton (7-3) returns to action Saturday when they host Toledo Christian.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010