LIBERTY CENTER – Swanton trailed by as many as 17 points and was behind 29-15 at the half, and despite a fourth quarter rally attempt, fell short to the Tigers in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball Friday night, 47-42.
The Bulldogs had been outscored by Liberty Center 18-7 through the first 7:59 of the second quarter, when a Josh Vance 3-pointer brought it to the previously mentioned 14-point deficit at the break.
In the third quarter, Liberty Center picked up where they left off at the end of the half. Carter Burdue’s bucket off a steal and Connor Keller’s layup around a Vance jumper for Swanton, put them up 35-19 at the 4:54 mark.
Then the Dogs responded with a 9-0 run.
Andrew Thornton scored the next three points on 1 of 2 free throws and a basket, Brendan Pelland scored in transition for the Dogs. Then two Justyn Bartlett free throws and Vance’s basket off a steal made it a 35-28 game with 3:05 left in the third.
Another Vance triple in the closing second, countering buckets by Burdue and Trent Murdock of Liberty Center, kept the Dogs within eight at 39-31 after three.
Trent Weigel registered four Swanton points around a Murdock putback hoop, while Thornton tacked on two from the foul line as the Dogs inched closer with just over five minutes remaining. They were all the way back when a Bartlett three trimmed the LC lead to 41-40 at the 4:36 mark.
The Tigers’ Evan Conrad and Vance then traded buckets in the paint, keeping it a one point margin with 1:33 left.
However, Murdock sealed the deal on two free throws, plus a steal and score with 57 seconds to go. The Dogs came up empty on their final possessions.
Vance tallied 14 points and Thornton 9 to lead the Dogs (7-11, 1-4 NWOAL). Murdock had 17 and Burdue had 12 for Liberty Center (10-9, 2-3).
Two days prior, Swanton fell 69-36 on the road at Clay. They next host Toledo Christian (17-2) Tuesday before traveling to Delta (6-13, 1-4) on Friday.
The Dogs also learned over the weekend where they will begin tournament play in the Division III district at Central Catholic.
They are the ninth seed and will face No. 12 seed Montpelier Tuesday, Feb. 25 in Wauseon at 6:15 p.m. The winner gets second-seeded Archbold Friday, Feb. 28 at 6:15 p.m. at Wauseon for a sectional championship.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010