Swanton boys basketball coach Bruce Smith has been a mathmetics teacher for a very long time so he absolutely understands the functions of addition and subtraction along with the factor of X.
There were pluses and minuses, along with scoring runs that if you put them on a graph, they would look like an EKG machine.
But in the end it was the X factor of Cole Mitchey that made all the numbers add up to 500, as in number of coaching wins in Smith’s lengthy career as Swanton pulled away from Evergreen in the last six minutes for a 41-28 win to go to 2-0 on the season in Smith’s first season with the Bulldogs.
“I’ve had great assistants, I’ve had great players, and for the most part I’ve had very supportive administrators,” Smith said of his journey from Delta, to Whitmer, then Southview and now Swanton, to 500 victories.
“And I’m old,” he joked.. “They all tie together but I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate, and I’ve got my health for who knows how much longer but it’s been fun.”
The additions were factors early, as did one of those scoring runs.
After Evan Lumbrezer and RJ Shunck canned all seven points for a 7-3 Viking lead, Swanton used the plus function of Rossford transfer Nic Borojevich to spark a 14-0 run that spanned into the second quarter.
Borojevich scored three buckets and Mitchey added a triple and tip in to boost the Bulldogs on top 17-7 with 6:04 left in the half.
“To be honest Nic played poorly and he will be the first to admit that,” Smith explained. “But when you look at things like that you give the other team credit and he had the league player of the year guarding him (Lumbrezer). That kid is so smart and so competitive.”
Shunck powered his way for three more baskets around another Mitchey triple to bring the Vikings back to within 20-14 with 2:20 left, but the younger of the pair of transfers, Luc Borojevich, hit a triple and Mitchey nailed his third of the first half to give Swanton a 12-point lead at the break.
The game looked more like an old school Big East tourney contest as both teams were in each other’s face defensively as the Vikings were guilty of 12 first half turnovers while the Bulldogs had eight.
The Vikings amped up the defense a notch higher in the third quarter to chop into the Bulldogs’ double-digit lead.
Evergreen forced eight Swanton miscues, Shunck and Drew Gillen canned 6-6 from the line, Tyson Woodring and Lumbrezer scored in tight as Evergreen went on a 12-2 run to get back to 28-24.
Luc Borojevich and Eli Keifer traded hoops before the end of the quarter to keep the Bulldog margin at four heading into the fourth but this time the upstroke in the EKG machine went toward Swanton.
Evergreen misfired six straight times beginning the final period.
With 6:03 left, Sam Betz came up with the score that gave Swanton some distance with a three-point play that pushed the Bulldog lead back to nine.
Mitchey hammered home the final nail at the 2:20 mark with his fourth 3-pointer of the night.
“We got very impatient in the third quarter. We didn’t get any good shots, we didn’t get any second shots,” Smith said of Evergreen’s run. “I knew if we could get a big bucket to go in and I think Betz’ bucket was a key point.”
Mitchey’s 17 points led all scorers while Nic Borojevich added 11.
The subtraction portion of the night was the fact that Evergreen played without three-year starter Ethan Loeffler who sustained a shoulder injury against Emmanuel Christian Academy and will be out indefinitely.
“I give (Viking coach Jerry Keifer) and his kids all the credit in the world,” Smith said. “Without him (Loeffler) they battled their tails off. I give them all the credit in the world. They are dangerous not having a kid who has started 50-some varsity games.
“I talked to him after and I hope that he can come back. He’s a good kid and you wish well on him.”
Shunck had 14 points and eight rebounds to pace Evergreen.
Both teams had 18 turnovers, while the Vikings led the rebounding battle 25-23.
However, Evergreen shot just 33 percent from the floor, including 0-9 from the three-point line.
Those shooting woes continued into the first half of the next night for Evergreen at Otsego as Evergreen missed their first 10 triple tries and shot just 35 percent, holding an eight point lead against the Knights.
Just that quick, Evergreen heated up in the second half, shooting a sizzling 68 percent from the floor to blow the game wide open.
Brock Hudik canned two corner triples and Keifer one more to key a 21-8 third quarter in a 63-37 win over Otsego.
Woodring scored 16 points to lead Evergreen. Lumbrezer had 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Keifer added 11 as the Vikings shot a more Viking-like 50 percent for the game.
Swanton plays at Otsego this Thursday while Evergreen, now 2-2, travels to Edgerton Saturday.