Swanton suffered a scoring drought in the second half Friday night against Archbold, something that has plagued them at times this year, but Luc Borojevich’s 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter woke them up, breaking the tie at 37 and giving the Bulldogs momentum to pull away for a 45-39 victory in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball.
With the win, Swanton has clinched the league title outright, their first since 2015 and first outright crown in 40 years. The Dogs (18-2, 6-0 NWOAL) can make it an unblemished league season if they can take care of Bryan this Friday, also at home.
“I thought looking at the eight teams in the league that five of them were capable (of winning the league) — us included,” said Swanton Coach Bruce Smith on if he envisioned his team winning the league in his first season at the helm. “And it’s really tough when you only play everybody once. You have an injury; you have an illness. In all fairness to (Archbold coach) Joe (Frank), DJ Newman didn’t play at Patrick Henry and they lost that game. It might have been for all the marbles today, them having one loss too.
“I knew we had a chance,” Smith added of his team. “Certainly I’m not gonna be arrogant enough to say that we were gonna do this, but, I knew we were in that mix.”
It looked bleak for Archbold near the halfway point of the third quarter. Cole Mitchey’s 1 of 2 free throws for Swanton, then three points by teammate Nic Borojevich around a putback basket by Archbold’s DJ Newman gave the Dogs a 32-20 advantage at the 4:13 mark.
However, the home team proceeded to go the next seven plus minutes without scoring. Archbold, on the other hand, got six points from Newman, baskets by Alex Roth and Jayden Seiler, and two Gavin Bailey free throws to knot the score at 32 with 5:45 remaining in the game.
“We just started being more aggressive,” said Coach Frank of the Streaks’ run. “They completely (out-hustled) us the first half. They deserved to be ahead, as a matter of fact, we were lucky we were down nine (at halftime). It just goes to show you, when you’re the aggressor and you start getting physical with them a little bit, it can change the game which is exactly what happened.”
A pair of Mitchey free throws and Roth’s tear-drop basket kept the score tied at the 4:42 mark. But then Luc Borojevich put the Dogs ahead for good with his corner triple with just north of three minutes remaining.
“Well, I was saying in my mind, ‘somebody make a shot,’” Smith said of his thought process when his team was struggling. “And finally Luc hit that three from the right corner that really loosened us up. Because that rim was looking smaller, and smaller, and smaller in the third and early fourth quarter. With an athlete like Newman and a great point guard like Roth, you know they weren’t going away. And they never did. It’s a great win for our community; it’s a great win for our basketball program. We look forward to the rest of the season.”
Newman did fire back for Archbold with a jumper, however, Nic Borojevich scored the game’s next five points and the Dogs held a 41-36 advantage with 1:29 to go.
Swanton’s defense was able to seal it from there.
“We got loosened up a little bit when Luc put the ball in there to go up three. I think that just jump-started us defensively too. Because, you can’t help but feel sorry for yourself when you can’t make a damn shot. And we couldn’t. But we’ve gone through those droughts before this year. I mean it’s not surprising to me, unfortunately, I wish we didn’t (have those droughts). But that’s just the way it is. But, we’ll take it,” Smith said.
“They made some stops. We had some good looks, just didn’t make ‘em,” noted Frank. “Give them credit. I mean, they’re undefeated in the league for a reason. I wouldn’t trade these teams. I’ll take my kids. And we’re gonna get better from this; we’ll learn from it. We’ve got three more games to finish up the regular season and then a sectional final game. If we play our cards right, who knows, we possibly could get a chance to play these guys again. That will be a good motivator for us moving forward, is, just an opportunity that you don’t get very often in high school basketball.”
Swanton’s Sam Betz scored twice in the span of a minute, then Mitchey added a drive and score as the Dogs carried a 12-5 lead into second stanza.
Newman and Tyler Hurst scored to open the second, bringing Archbold within three, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the half.
Nic Borojevich’s three and his clean up of a missed dunk by Kayden Davis extended the margin at 10 (25-15) with 1:05 left in the half. Roth then buried a triple for the Streaks, but Betz converted a bucket at the halftime horn, making it a 27-18 difference at the break.
Nic Borojevich led all scorers with 21 points. Mitchey added 14 for the Dogs.
The Streaks were led by Newman with 19 points and Roth with 12.
Archbold got back on track the following night with a 60-55 overtime win at Napoleon. They outscored the Wildcats 9-4 in the extra session.
Roth and Ashton Kammeyer led the way with 13 points apiece, while Seiler and Hurst each kicked in 12 points.
Archbold (13-7, 3-3) closes the regular season at Holgate (7-12) Tuesday and at home versus Wauseon (13-8, 4-2) on Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.