For most of the season, Gunnar Oakes has been a big factor in games won by the Swanton boys basketball team. That continued Friday night as he scored 24 points in the first half and 36 for the game in a 64-46 win at home over Liberty Center.
“He pushed the basketball in transition, he got some (points) there, (and) it got him going,” said head coach Matt Smith on the play of Oakes. “He missed a couple free throws early, and instead of putting his head down, I think he played a little harder.”
The Bulldogs went on a 7-1 run late in the first quarter to lead 19-12 after one.
First Duyane Goings scored inside, then Randy Slink added a three-pointer and a bucket in transition, before Liberty Center’s Austin Like split a pair of free throws.
In the second quarter, the Tigers cut it to 29-26 after Zach Carpenter’s bucket on a spin to the hoop at the 3:25 mark. However, Liberty Center scored just one point over the final three minutes.
“I was pleased with our defensive effort,” said Smith. “That was the key. We came out and defended. That’s what we needed to do.”
Oakes converted a three-point play with 2:20 to go, then he hit 1 of 2 free throws and got a slam dunk off a steal to make it 35-26. Liberty Center’s Blake Graber was fouled shooting a three on the next Tiger possession, but he made only 1 of 3 shots.
Swanton would inbound the ball with just 3 seconds remaining, where Oakes hit a pull up triple from halfcourt to make it 38-27 at the half.
A bucket by Oakes on a drive to the hoop helped put Swanton up by double digits, 45-32, with 1:31 left in the third. Then, the Tigers got a basket from Christian Chambers and a triple from Jarrett Krugh around a deuce by Oakes which kept the margin at 10.
Swanton once again hit a shot at the buzzer to end the third, as Goings drilled a fadeaway jumper to put the Dogs ahead 49-37 after three.
Slink hit a jumper to begin the fourth for the Dogs, and after Chambers split a pair from the line for LC, Oakes knocked down back-to-back shots to put them up 55-38 57 seconds into the frame.
Swanton limited the Tigers to only eight more points the rest of the way.
After Oakes, Goings finished with 11 points while Slink chipped in with 9.
Swanton improved to 9-11 overall and 3-3 in the NWOAL with the win. They host Cardinal Stritch Tuesday and Delta this Friday to end the regular season.
“We got two more next week that we can get if we play the right way. So, we are hoping to finish the season on a good note,” said Smith. “We are starting to play better. I am happy with our performance right now.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010