Swanton jumped on top of Van Buren from the get-go in what resulted in a 54-30 victory for the Bulldogs in the semifinal matchup of the Bob Fisher Holiday Classic Thursday night.
“I thought we were real solid defensively early,” said Swanton coach Bruce Smith after the game. “Other than a couple of mistakes where we didn’t know who we had, they would of had 10 points at halftime. You know, at the varsity level you can certainly live with that. But defensively I think we were pretty solid.”
Cole Mitchey notched five points in the first two minutes for the Bulldogs, who created a 12-0 lead in the opening quarter.
The Black Knights did not get on the board until the 2:25 mark of the period, when Parker Beilharz sank a 3-pointer. That kick-started a 7-0 run for the visitors, their lone bright spot of the game.
At the end of the quarter, a Hayden Callicotte triple for Swanton then Van Buren’s Hudson Sendelbach’s deuce made the margin 15-9 after one.
The Dogs went on a 10-0 spurt to begin the second quarter.
Drew Smigelski split a pair at the foul line, then Luc Borojevich converted inside and later added a three. He was fouled on the triple and came up short at the line, however, Charlie Wood was there to clean it up. Wood also scored the next time down the floor for a 25-9 Bulldog advantage with 5:11 remaining in the half.
The Black Knights broke the rally as James Homan converted a basket 17 seconds later. Another hoop for Wood plus a Mitchey dunk put the score at 29-11 with 3:45 left.
Van Buren’s last points of the half were a Sendelbach putback and 1 of 2 at the free throw line by Reese Reichley. Swanton made it 33-14 at the break on a Kayden Davis hoop off an assist from Borojevich, then Borojevich’s floater.
The Dogs had a balanced scoring night as a team. Mitchey and Callicotte each had 10 points apiece. Smigelski, Borojevich, and Wood also had some crucial baskets in the win.
“With a senior-laden group you would hope that you would get that,” noted Smith. “We don’t have a great player but we got a lot of good players. When you have one great player and he has an off night, in all likelihood you lose. But we got guys that, if one guy isn’t playing as well as he hopes, we got two or three others that can pick it up. That depth is really important; I’m thrilled that we have it.”
Swanton outscored Van Buren 21-16 after the break as the Knights could never really get close again.
The Dogs take on Maumee Friday night in the Holiday Classic final.
“Physicality,” coach Smith said on what will be key in the matchup with the Panthers. “They had a kid (Jaden Walker) that got 26 (points in semifinal against Maumee Valley Country Day). We’ll put Cole on him. But they are more physical than anybody we’ve seen on our schedule so far. We’re gonna have to deal with that on the backboard and take care of the ball. We look forward to the challenge.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.