Behind stellar three-point shooting in the first half Swanton built a sizeable lead. Then they were able to hold off a fourth quarter charge from Clay for a 48-44 victory in non-league boys basketball on Tuesday.
Andrew Thornton knocked down a trio of first quarter threes for the Bulldogs while teammate Cole Mitchey added two more as Swanton opened up a 22-9 lead after the first quarter.
“Early threes gave us some breathing room but with being a lot smaller than them, we needed to keep scoring because we knew defending the block against them was going to be a challenge,” said Swanton coach Joel Visser of his team’s three-point shooting effort. “We are starting to shoot the ball like we are capable of — which has been exciting to watch.”
The home Bulldogs outscored the Eagles 7-4 in the second, with Josh Vance notching a pair of buckets and a Thornton triple with 1:38 left in the period staking them to a 29-13 halftime lead.
“We doubled all block touches for (Clay’s Frank Waganfeald) early. We couldn’t allow the ball to be inside or it was going to be a long night for us. We were working really hard to protect the paint and forcing them to shoot the ball effectively from the perimeter in order to beat us,” Visser explained.
Swanton maintained its distance in the third period until a Waganfeald three-point play pulled Clay within nine, 33-24, at the 2:18 mark.
But the Dogs would answer back with a pair of hoops from Mitchey around a short jumper from Vance, bumping the advantage back to 15 by the end of the quarter.
Swanton and Clay alternated baskets to begin the fourth, then the Eagles orchestrated a 12-2 run.
A three-point play by Logan Heintschel, a bucket from Noah Hagdohl, and Ethan Spears’ triple from the top of the key got the run started for the Eagles. A deuce from Thornton in between put the margin at 43-34 with under four minutes to play.
The Eagles then got within five with 2:36 remaining following consecutive baskets from Hagdohl.
Mitchey hit a pair of free throws for Swanton, however, 1 of 2 from the line by Waganfeald plus a Keehgan Calkins 3-pointer trimmed the Bulldog deficit to 45-42 with just 42 seconds left.
Then, Thornton and Hagdohl each hit a pair from the foul line to keep the margin at three. Vance’s split at the line with 10 seconds to go put it just out of reach.
Thornton finished with 18 points to pace Swanton (6-5). Mitchey added 16 and Vance 14.
Swanton has won four of their last five contests. They travel to Patrick Henry (5-7) Friday night.
“We have had a number of good performances lately,” said Visser of the Dogs’ recent surge. “I thought we played really well in Central Catholic game (a 59-55 loss on Dec. 19), versus Evergreen last week and against Clay the other night. This game was our best shooting performance though for sure, and we made foul shots late in the game to seal it.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.