They didn’t shoot it well from the field but when it counted, Swanton was deadly at the foul line.
The Bulldogs gave up 10 points in the matter of 51 seconds to finish the first half, but then they didn’t allow a field goal for over 12 minutes in the third and fourth quarter.
That stellar free throw shooting and disjointed offense by Toledo Christian were the keys in Swanton’s 45-39 win at home Monday over the Eagles, who were No. 2 in Ohio in Division IV at the time and are now No. 6. The victory boosted the Bulldogs to 15-5 on the season.
Swanton’s shooting woes began right away as the Bulldogs went just 6-for-20 in the opening stanza.
However, second chance points off the offensive glass from Grace Oakes, Morgan Pine and Frankie Nelson were key as Swanton took a 13-9 lead into the second quarter.
The Eagles claimed a 14-13 lead when Madison Royal-Davis scored on a putback with 6:34 left, but Nelson answered back with a left-corner triple at the 4:44 mark, and Oakes’ stickback gave Swanton an 18-14 advantage with 2:53 on the clock.
Aricka Lutz’ basket from in close maintained that five point lead with 2:30 to go, but that was the last Bulldog points of the half.
With 51 ticks left, Jordan Rosales drained a triple, then three straight Bulldog miscues led to seven straight Royal-Davis points – the last three on a triple with five seconds left that gave the Eagles a 25-20 halftime lead.
“First quarter we were fine and most of the second we were too,” said Bulldog coach Eric Oakes. “Then they scored 10 points in less than a minute that drove me nuts because we just started doing dumb things when we didn’t need to, bad passes and lost our focus.
“The long faces at halftime though, the girls turned it into some positive energy and got after it.”
The Eagle margin grew to 32-23 on Jackie Norman’s three-point play with 4:21 to go in the third.
From there began a 12 minute, 15 second field goal drought for Toledo Christian, and Swanton climbed back in the game.
“They decided to try to hold (the ball), and I thought they tried to force our hand a little bit,” explained Oakes. “That’s really our game though is to just get after it and making it a mess for them. In the third and then the fourth quarter I think we did that and we made enough plays and created some turnovers in the fourth.”
Nelson’s third three-ball on the night, and Oakes’ drive to the rim sliced the lead to 32-29 late in the third.
Down 35-31 heading into the fourth, Aricka Lutz’ three-point play drew Swanton within one, then Pine’s bucket off a turnover against the Eagles delay game with 3:16 left regained a Bulldog lead.
From that point after a number of Eagle misfires and miscues, Swanton began a parade to the foul line where both Aricka and Averie Lutz were radar-like.
The two junior guards knocked down 9 of 10 from the line, while the Eagles continued to struggle from the floor before they finally scored on Cat Jones’ floater with 26 seconds left to make it 43-39 Bulldogs.
“We’ve been working real hard on (foul shooting) since last year, because we were not very good at the line back then,” said Oakes.
“Averie and Aricka were at the free throw line late and they were both knocking them down. And Aricka has been doing that all year long, she’s shooting about 80 percent so we are trying to get the ball to her along with Averie, Gracie and they have been making those free throws in close games which are huge.”
Averie Lutz countered that basket with a final pair from the line four seconds later for a six point Bulldog win.
Swanton shot just 14-for-52 from the field, but had a big 39-30 advantage on the glass.
With the exception of an eight turnover second quarter, the Bulldogs took very good care of the basketball, committing just 12 for the night.
Toledo Christian had 18 turnovers.
Aricka Lutz’ 17 points and Nelson’s 11 led Swanton. Royal-Davis led Toledo Christian with 18 while Jones added 10.
The Bulldogs finish the regular season at home against Delta (15-5) Thursday and then Saturday versus Northwood.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com