Swanton’s long season continued on Friday when, despite holding a three-point lead at halftime, they could not contain Wauseon inside in the second half during a 47-38 loss at home in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball.
The Bulldogs have now lost seven of their last eight games, falling to 1-3 in the league after the loss to the Indians.
“We played well in the first half because we knocked down some shots. But what I was most disappointed about was, we just got outphysicaled and we got manhandled in the paint in the second half. They shot 14 free throws to our three. That’s just a recipe for disaster. I certainly thought we should have shot some more free throws, but we didn’t. That’s how it goes some nights,” said Swanton coach Joel Visser.
It was clear after the game that Wauseon coach Chad Burt knew his team dodged a bullet.
“We talked all week that this was going to be a battle. They were gonna be excited to play us,” he said. “They’ve got very athletic kids. They run good stuff; they have shot-makers. It really wasn’t a surprise how the game played out. We were fortunate down the stretch, that we made a few more shots. And the reality is, they missed some shots or we could be looking at a different outcome. I think you got to give them a lot of credit. But we got to be a little better than that.”
Wauseon had the first big run of the game in the first quarter, closing the period on a 6-0 run.
Isaac Wilson broke a 9-9 tie with a basket in the paint at the 2:39 mark, and that would become a reoccurring incident. The Indians’ reserve big man finished with 11 points on 4 of 5 shooting.
Connar Penrod added a basket inside for the Indians, then Noah Tester’s putback hoop made it a 15-9 difference after one.
The three-ball was the Bulldogs’ saving grace in the first half where they hit on five from long range – including four from Andrew Thornton.
However, it was a three-point play the old fashioned way that began a 9-2 run over the first four plus minutes of the second quarter.
Sam Betz scored off a steal and tacked on a free throw for the Dogs, but Tyson Britsch answered with a deuce for Wauseon. A Justyn Bartlett drive and score for Swanton, Thornton’s putback, and an off-balance shot from Hayden Callicotte put the Dogs in front 18-17 with 3:18 before half.
Although Tester briefly gave the Indians the lead back via a drive to the hoop, Thornton responded with back-to-back triples which gave the Dogs a five-point lead with 1:31 remaining.
The junior led all Bulldog scorers with 14 points; however, he was held scoreless in the second half after some adjustments from Wauseon.
“We made some offensive adjustments to free him up. Second half, right now we’ve got to be able to get him (a break). Someone’s got to come off the bench and give (us) a couple quality minutes so we can actually give him a rest. But we’re not getting contributions off the bench like we need to to be a good basketball team,” said Visser on Thornton’s night.
Wauseon scored once more down the stretch, a Wilson basket inside at the 1:02 mark, making the halftime margin 24-21.
The Indians answered the call to begin the second half, beginning with Wilson’s three-point play 38 seconds in to tie the score. Less than a minute later, Tester drilled a three off an inbounds play to give the Indians the lead back.
He would score the next three points as well, the last coming on a deuce at the 2:28 mark of the third to finish off the 10-0 run and give his team a 31-24 advantage.
“I thought we came out lethargic in the third,” stated Visser. “I don’t know how you go into cruise control when you’re playing Wauseon at home.
“The third quarter right now is just an absolute disaster for us. And that’s what’s killing us. We did some things better, but, I’m sick of moral victories.”
The Indians maintained their distance until one last Swanton charge in the fourth quarter.
Down 37-29, Betz’ bucket inside pulled the Dogs within six. Thornton – the starting quarterback on Swanton’s football team last fall – then did his best Patrick Mahomes impression with a deep toss to Callicotte who finished it off at the other end. After one of two free throws from Wilson, a Vance basket pulled the Dogs within 38-35 with just under five minutes remaining.
But, Wauseon closed it out with a flurry of their own.
A Penrod turnaround jumper, Sean Brock’s tip in off a Penrod miss, and Wilson’s split from the foul line bumped the lead back to eight, 43-35, with 3:01 left.
After Thornton, Vance had 11 points to pace the Bulldogs (7-9, 1-3 NWOAL). Tester led the Indians (13-5, 3-1) with 15 points while Penrod added 12.
Swanton is at Clay (4-13) Wednesday and Liberty Center (9-8, 1-3) on Friday in NWOAL play.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010