Looking to get revenge on one of just three teams to beat them last season, Swanton did just that as they held off a stingy Stryker squad for a 47-42 win in non-league boys basketball Tuesday night in Swanton.
It was no cake walk for the Bulldogs. The Panthers fought them until the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Momentum seemed to tilt in Swanton’s favor when a Drew Smigelski three-point play put them up 43-34 with 3:02 remaining in the game. However, Stryker battled back from there.
First Michael Donovan hit a deuce, but when his chance at a three-point play fell short, 6’6” Elijah Juillard was there for a putback. The Panthers then got a drive and score from Jacob Cadwell with 50 seconds left, trimming the margin to 43-40.
Luc Borojevich bumped the margin back to five 24 seconds later with a pair of free throws.
Stryker did cut it to three when Juillard scored with 12 seconds left. But a Panther turnover following Swanton’s miss on a front-end of a 1-and-1 opportunity ended their chance to tie it. A pair of Hayden Callicotte free throws iced it for the Dogs.
“They put us in spots that we’re not accustomed to being in, in terms of their zones and their traps and so on,” said Swanton coach Bruce Smith of Stryker. “We did not play well and…part of that’s us and part of it’s to their credit to be honest with you. We got a ‘W.’ It’s Christmas vacation; it’s tough to focus. Not an excuse but it’s a reason.”
Outside of a nice run in the second quarter, Swanton could not create much breathing room throughout the game.
The Dogs led 10-6 after the first as Cole Mitchey sank a three as the quarter horn sounded.
Just past the halfway mark of the second stanza, Charlie Wood marked a three-point play for Swanton, Mitchey turned a steal into points, then Borojevich did the same for a 19-10 Bulldog lead with 3:15 before half.
The visiting Panthers, in particular Daniel Donovan, fired back with a corner triple then a three-point play the old fashioned way the next time down. That cut the Bulldog advantage to three (19-16), but Swanton would turn to Callicotte who buried a pair of threes around a drive and score from Juillard.
Callicotte was the Bulldogs’ second leading scorer on the night with 14 points.
“He made some big baskets. He’s been playing for three and a half years. He’s a complete knucklehead but he did a nice job tonight,” Smith joked when asked about Callicotte’s performance. “Senior guards, that’s what they have to do in clutch situations.”
Daniel Donovan’s basket off a backdoor cut made the halftime margin 25-20 in favor of the Dogs.
The third quarter was basically even, with Swanton outscoring Stryker 8-7.
Mitchey paced the Dogs with 16 points. Juillard had a game-high 21 for the Panthers.
Swanton (7-0) does not take the floor again until they host the Bob Fisher Holiday Classic next Thursday and Friday. They begin with a matchup against Van Buren, while Maumee and Maumee Valley Country Day will face off in the other contest.
Coach Smith says he hopes his team can get three more practices in this week — weather depending — then a couple more next week leading into the tournament.
“We’re gonna work hard on Tuesday and Wednesday, then we play Thursday/Friday. We’re gonna get back at it. We’ll specifically plan for Van Buren on Tuesday and Wednesday next week,” he said.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.