Swanton had a productive third quarter Tuesday night, beginning the stanza on a 9-2 run and never looking back en route to a 48-41 win over Montpelier in a Division III boys basketball sectional semifinal at Wauseon.
The victory gets the Bulldogs a rematch with Archbold in the sectional final Friday at 6:15 p.m. It will be exactly one week removed from Swanton’s 50-39 loss to the Blue Streaks on Feb. 21.
Against Montpelier, the Dogs trailed 22-21 at halftime by way of a Tylor Yahraus jump shot in the final minute of the second quarter.
Swanton, particularly Andrew Thornton, came out on a mission to start the third. The junior scored all nine Bulldog points in the first three minutes of the stanza, and with a Yahraus bucket in between, they led 30-24 at the 5:07 mark.
“The start of the third was big coming out of the locker room,” said Swanton coach Joel Visser. “Andrew got us a couple quick ones that kind of relieved a little bit of the pressure, because we’ve struggled sometimes starting the game and starting the third quarter. They were 9 of 14 from the field in the first half. We just felt like we needed to do a better job closing on the perimeter and then rebounding the miss.
“They (Montpelier) played tough. This time of year, it doesn’t matter (how you win). We’re 0-0 coming in, now we’re 1-0. We’ve gotta focus on Friday and have two good days of practice.”
Swanton also got a big second half from Josh Vance, who scored 13 of his game-high 19 points after the break.
A halftime adjustment allowed them to create better driving lanes for Thornton, Vance and others.
“The second half we really wanted to play inside-out,” explained Visser. “Where he (Thornton) needed to touch it. Or our bigs down inside needed to touch it, then the ball goes out. Now we got some gap attack with our guards. Right out of the gate we got a layup, the next time down we got a touch, and then we got a transition bucket. We just kind of got it going.”
Thornton was in and out the whole night as he was battling an illness. To help keep him fresh, senior Jake Crow and also Blake Szalapski were used by coach Visser, each getting into the scoring column.
“I thought Jake came in and gave us some nice minutes,” stated Visser of Crow’s night. “Nothing fancy, but, defended (well), got some rebounds and didn’t hurt us.”
The Dogs extended their lead to seven in the fourth, 43-36, before the Locomotives made one last run with under two minutes left. Austin Peffley hit a pair of free throws, then a 3-pointer from the corner by Yahraus brought Montpelier within 43-41 with just 44 seconds left.
Swanton would be forced to ice it away at the foul line – which they did. Senior Justyn Bartlett knocked down a pair with 33 seconds remaining, then Vance went 3 of 4.
The Locomotives hit five 3-pointers in the first half as they looked to pull the upset on the higher-seeded Dogs.
A Thomas Jay triple gave them their biggest lead at 20-13 with just north of three minutes left until half. However, Swanton responded from outside at the other end of the floor.
Treys from Bartlett and Trent Weigel, with Weigel also tacking on a putback hoop, put the Dogs in front 21-20 at the 1:08 mark.
Thornton added 11 points for Swanton, who improved to 9-14 with the win. Yahraus had 13 to lead Montpelier (5-18).
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010