Some 10 days ago, with five games left during that time, Swanton girls basketball coach Eric Oakes said his Bulldogs needed to take care of their home ground in four of those heading into the OHSAA tournament.
The Bulldogs continued to make that prophecy come true with a 47-45 overtime win over the Delta Panthers Thursday night.
Swanton boosted their record to 16-5 on the season.
The loss cost Delta a tie for the Northwest Ohio Athletic League crown after Wauseon lost to Patrick Henry, giving the Panthers an opportunity to grab a share.
Reagan Rouleau’s dish to Brooklyn Wymer, then her own score off a turnover, and a Brooklyn Green triple gave Delta an early 7-1 lead with 3:15 left in the opening stanza.
It would be almost 11 minutes before the Panthers hit again from the floor.
Frankie Nelson’s three-ball and Jessica Dohm’s bucket got the Bulldogs back to a two point deficit at 8-6 at the quarter, and Aricka Lutz put the Bulldogs ahead with a second chance hoop at the 6:16 mark of the second.
Lutz hit two more baskets – including another off an offensive rebound – and Dohm also scored on a putback to inflate the Bulldog lead to 17-8 with 1:22 left.
Braelyn Wymer’s 3-pointer broke a 10 minute, 43 second drought in which the Panthers went 0-for-11 from the field, and kept Delta within 19-13 at the half.
“Our zone is a little different with Frankie on top of it,” explained Oakes of the Panthers’ 11-minute dry spell from the floor. “She has a lot of length and can travel from side to side well and that helps contest a lot. Our rebounding was very good then as well (the Bulldogs had a 10-4 advantage on the glass in the quarter). We ran with that crew from that point through most of the second half I believe becauase they were getting the job done.”
Green’s drive got the Panthers back to a one possession margin at 20-17 with 5:17 to go in the third, but Nelson’s transition layup, then Morgan Pine’s 2-for-2 from the stripe and putback regained a nine point lead.
Pine’s second stickback with 1:10 on the clock gave Swanton a 31-23 lead heading into the fourth.
“Morgan just gets in there and gets after it,” Oakes said of his senior forward. “She is stronger, more aggressive, she does a nice job inside for us and her work at the line has come a long way. Her free throw shooting previously was not good at all and she worked very hard to get better and she hit a few tonight, more than what she has in the past.”
After Pine’s third basket inside with 6:39 left that retained a 33-25 lead, Delta fought back into the contest as Rouleau put her teammates on her back and carried them for the next five minutes.
The junior forward scored 12 of the next 13 Panther points on 4-for-4 from the foul line, a pair of left-corner triples and a fast break basket to shave the Swanton lead to 40-38 with 1:32 left when Green’s spin move knotted the score at 40.
Averie Lutz’ move inside put Swanton up 42-40 with 1:15 left, but Brooklyn Wymer hits both ends of a one-and-one 25 seconds later that would send the game into an extra four minutes.
Ella Ford dropped a triple with 2:37 left to push Delta on top at 45-42, but after Pine split a pair at the line, Averie Lutz nailed a deep three at the 1:33 mark to put Swanton ahead for good.
“I liked the look in Averie’s eyes, she didn’t get the layup to go at the end of regulation but you knew she was going to get another chance,” said Oakes of Lutz’ go-ahead shot. “That 3-pointer after they hit one was the one that put us over the top. If she misses that, Delta is probably co-champs right now but she buried it and I was really happy for her.”
After another split at the stripe, Delta had chances to tie but couldn’t get one to fall as the Bulldogs survived to win.
For the game, Swanton went 15-for-40 from the floor, while the Panthers were just 15 of 45.
Rouleau led all scorers with 14 points but was the only Delta player to reach double figures. Each Lutz had 11 and Pine 10 for the Bulldogs.
Those points from Aricka Lutz were enough for her to win the league scoring title for the season.
The Bulldogs drew a first round bye in the Division III sectional and will play the winner of Northwood and Otsego Saturday night at Bowling Green.
Delta plays Genoa in a doubleheader nightcap at Springfield tomorrow night and with a win, will also play for a sectional title Saturday at Springfield.
On Monday, Feb. 10, 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 over the Eagles, who were No. 2 in Ohio in Division IV at the time and are now No. 6.
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.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org