OTTAWA HILLS — Offensive efficiency was far from a premium and it took a forced scoop from the hip by Brayden Miller that turned into an ‘and-one’ with 2.8 seconds left on the clock that gave Ottawa Hills a 34-33 win over Swanton in a Division III boys basketball sectional final at Ottawa Hills Friday.
The poor play on offense showed its ugly head right away in the first quarter as both team combined for nine turnovers.
The only semblance of something good came from the Green Bears as two lobs to senior Eli VanSlooten gave Ottawa Hills a 6-4 lead after eight minutes.
The Bulldogs were held without a field goal until Cole Mitchey converted a turnover into a last-second layup to keep the Bulldogs within a bucket.
AJ George’s scoop and three-point play early in the second gave Ottawa Hills their biggest lead of the night at 10-4, but the Bulldogs fought back in the form of Trent Weigel.
The 6’3” senior hit back-to-back triples then scored on a layup off yet another Ottawa Hills miscue to bring the Bulldogs even at 12-12 with 4:37 left in the half.
One of the Bulldogs’ 10 first half turnovers led to Adam Ayad’s layup that regained a Green Bear lead but two late buckets from Blake Szalapski — including one with 1.6 on the clock — kept Swanton within a point (17-16) at intermission.
The slow-paced game had a whopping 18 first half turnovers combined with the Bulldogs shooting 6-17 and the Green Bears just 7-17.
After going scoreless in the first half, Andrew Thornton got a putback that turned into a three-point play, to give Swanton a 21-19 lead with 4:13 to go in the third, then used a euro-step to get to the rim for a four-point Bulldog lead that was their biggest of the game.
However, more Swanton turnovers led to one of VanSlooten’s two buckets that tied the game before Caden Coy got to the basket just before the buzzer off another Bulldog mistake to give Ottawa Hills a two-point lead going into the fourth.
Weigel’s third triple pushed Swanton back up 28-25 with 6:20 left but George scored off a turnover with 3:17 to go that regained a Green Bear lead.
Thornton and then Weigel each split from the foul line to again get Swanton on top 30-29, and Mitchey hit both ends of a bonus with 47.5 left for another three-point lead.
VanSlooten’s score off the baseline with 17.5 to go brought Ottawa Hills back to a one-point deficit before Vance hit the first and missed the second of a bonus to put Swanton up 33-31 with 12 ticks left.
The Bulldogs, with fouls to give, burned one with 4.8 to go just before VanSlooten got to the rim for a layin.
However on the ensuing inbounds, Miller recieved the ball and while drawing another foul flipped one off his hip that fell to tie the game.
The junior forward’s try from the line hit nothing but net and a last-second heave from halfcourt by Swanton was off the mark.
Swanton shot just 33 percent for the game and was guilty of 20 turnovers. Ottawa Hills was only 15-38 and had 15 turnovers.
Weigel had 12 points to lead the Bulldogs, who bow out of the tournament with a 14-10 mark.
VanSlooten scored 12 for Ottawa Hills.
Dogs top Comets in semifinal
Swanton led 13-2 after the first quarter and never really looked back in their 52-36 win over Genoa in the sectional semifinal Wednesday.
“The last three games we’ve outrebounded our opponent. So we’ve rebounded the miss. I know that sounds ridiculous, but, that’s been the difference in finding some close wins in the last two/three games,” said Visser after the game.
Back-to-back steal and scores from Josh Vance at the end of the first period helped extend the Bulldog lead to 11.
The Swanton defense wreaked havoc on the Comets for much of the contest, leading to points off turnovers.
“I think we had about eight points on run-outs. You can’t defend that when you get a run-out. Those were huge,” Visser said.
In the second quarter Genoa trimmed the deficit to seven, 20-13, following a pair of buckets from Aiden Hemmert plus Jacob Emerson’s drive and score. However, two straight 3-pointers from Andrew Thornton quickly nixed any momentum the Comets were building.
The Dogs hit seven threes on the night.
“Andrew got it going early (tonight) with making some threes,” said Visser. “That kind of relieves tournament-time pressure if you make a couple early. I thought that was huge, knocking down a couple shots. From there we kind of never really looked back. At halftime made a couple defensive adjustments. We needed to do a better job on Emerson. Trent (Weigel) locked him down and did a much better job in the second.”
Trent Weigel’s putback for Swanton in response to an Emerson drive and score and Skylar Ju’s triple gave the Dogs a 28-18 lead at the half.
Swanton, behind eight points from Thornton in the frame, outscored Genoa 12-5 in the third to build their advantage to 17 heading into the fourth. They ended up with a 16-point win.
“We have four seniors that give us a lot of minutes and those kids don’t want to go home yet,” Visser explained. “They are gonna play unselfish. They don’t care who’s getting it done they just want to get it done. That’s huge right now. I thought we got great minutes off the bench from Blake Szalapski. Nathan Vance gave us some minutes, so we had other guys come in and do some things. That was big too.”
Thornton paced the Dogs with 21 points while Vance added 16.
Max Householder contributed to this article.