OREGON, Ohio – Nobody really relishes the idea of having to beat a team for the third time in a season.
It’s even more stressful when that team is an archrival and wants a piece of you after a one point loss at home just four weeks earlier.
However in the end it was Evergreen who made good things happen in threes, as the Vikings used a strong second half to put away the stubborn Swanton Bulldogs 55-41 to win the Division III boys basketball sectional title at Oregon Clay Friday night.
For Swanton, Randy Slink started the Evergreen game where he left off with Woodmore two days earlier, as the 6’3” senior knocked in a foul line jumper under pressure, used a power move to bull inside for a score, then canned a pair of triples to give him a 10-point first quarter and the Bulldogs a three point lead.
Evergreen stayed tight as Borojevich hit a baseline jumper, then took a feed from Brighton for a three-point play, and Loeffler swished a pair of triples in the mug of a Swanton defender.
Borojevich’s third field goal of the quarter brought the Vikings within a point at 16-15, 42 seconds before the end of the first.
Jared Wilson, who was quiet the first eight minutes, scored 49 ticks into the second to again give Swanton a three point lead, but after Brighton and Loeffler hit 3 of 4 from the foul stripe, Borojevich struck from long range to give Evergreen a 21-18 lead.
“Nic has had that in him all year,” Viking assistant coach Bruce Smith said of the freshman’s 10-point first half. “He’s very humble and always defers to the upperclassmen out of respect for them. We’ve been on his butt that we need him to score in the event one of those guys isn’t having a good night and tonight he came through big time for us in the first half.”
Swanton forged a tie when Josh Vance split a pair with 1:28 left, however, Evergreen got the lead back 21 seconds later when Borojevich found Brighton inside for a 23-21 lead.
Again it was Slink, and again under pressure, with a fall away just before the first half buzzer to bring Swanton back to even, 23-23.
Brighton and Slink traded hoops to open the second half, then Brighton’s spin for a three-point play was offset by Wilson’s drive and a Vance free throw that kept the game tied at 28-28 with 5:06 left in the third.
The Bulldogs would not hit another field goal for another eight minutes as the Evergreen defense forced three turnovers and forced the Bulldogs into a series of one-and-done shots.
For the rest of the third, Evergreen sprinted out to a 13-2 run with Lumbrezer accounting for nearly every point.
The 6’3” senior found Loeffler inside for a pair of hoops and Brighton for one more, then hit a corner triple with 50 seconds left in the third to give the Vikings a 41-30 lead.
“Defensively we got Slink under control because he was out of sight in the first half,” Smith said of the Vikes lengthy stand. “We got into Chandler a little at halftime and challenged him and he really responded.
“We had all the respect in the world for Swanton. They were 10-13 but if you look at their talent, they have size, guards that can shoot it, they tore Woodmore up from the arc and inside.
“You really hate playing a team three times, especially when the last time was a one-point game at their place and they outplayed us and we were fortunate. All the props and all the respect to that team.”
Lumbrezer wasn’t done yet as he opened the fourth by splitting the key for an uncontested layup and then fed Loeffler for a spin move that blew the Viking lead to 45-30.
“I thought we did a better job spacing in the second half,” Evergreen head coach Jerry Keifer explained. “In the first half Swanton was coming pretty hard with their double inside and I thought we did a better job spacing. Nic and Chandler from outside on the kick out from the post and that spread them out a little bit. That got us a lot of really good looks and Nate and Mason didn’t miss them.”
Thornton broke the Bulldogs’ long drought by hitting from close range with 5:12 left, but after the Vikes spread the floor, Borojevich found Brighton for an easy layup at the four minute mark to regain the 15-point lead.
Dylan Gilsdorf tripled to get Swanton back to 12 but Evergreen again spread the floor and forced the Bulldogs to foul and put the game away hitting 8 of 10 in the last two minutes to give them the sectional title.
“We really made our chances on the foul line count,” said Keifer. “Give Swanton a lot of credit. We had to grind this out and we’re glad to be moving on to the district tournament.”
Four Vikings hit double figures as Loeffler led the way with 18 points. Borojevich had 14 while Brighton added 13.
Lumbrezer had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He also added seven assists.
Slink had 18 for Swanton, but just four in the second half.
After shooting just 7 for 23 in the first half, Evergreen was 9 of 15 in the second, and was 15 of 18 from the foul line.
Swanton shot 10 for 22 in the opening 16 minutes, but was held to 6 for 17 in the second half. Evergreen had a 28-15 advantage on the glass.
The Vikings, now 20-4, play third-ranked and 23-0 Genoa at Toledo Central Catholic Thursday night at 6:15 p.m. in the opening round of the Division III district.
Swanton finishes the season at 10-14.
Vikes hammer Lake, Swanton stuns Woodmore
Evergreen got to the title game in easy fashion, hammering Lake 74-28 on Wednesday.
Mason Loeffler, Bryce Hudik, Nic Borojevich and Chandler Lumbrezer all tripled in the first quarter to help push the Vikings to a 20-6 first quarter lead.
Loeffler hit a personal milestone at the 3:01 mark, when a baseline drive that turned into a scoop and score put the 6’4” junior over the 1,000 point mark for his career.
Evergreen blew the game wide open with a 30-point quarter in the second.
Jack Etue started the big stanza with a triple 27 seconds in, and Lumbrezer finished it with a 30-footer that banked in off glass at the second quarter buzzer.
In between, Loeffler hit five more field goals and Nate Brighton scored twice off the offensive glass as part of his 14 rebounds on the night.
In was Brighton’s third putback of the night at the 6:45 mark of the third that gave Evergreen a 54-19 lead and began the OHSAA running clock rule with the 35-point spread.
Evergreen hit their biggest lead late when the Vikings shut out the Flyers in the fourth quarter, and two baskets from Mason Henricks and a triple from CJ Houk gave Evergreen a 46-point lead.
The Vikings had four in double figures for the game. Loeffler had 15 points, all in the first half. Borojevich had 14 on 4 of 6 shooting from the floor.
Brighton had 10 to go with his 14 boards. Hudik also had 10, all of which he scored in the first half.
On a night where shots were being fired and hit from the volleyball lines to the Clay logos on the wings, it was Jared Wilson who scored the biggest one of the night for Swanton, from the shortest distance possible.
With time running down, the senior grabbed a Thornton miss for a putback basket with 1.4 seconds left for a game winner that sent the Bulldogs to the sectional final.
His final deuce gave him a team high 19 points on the night.
Slink added 16, Josh Vance 11 and Andrew Thornton 10.
Drew Burnor ended up with a game high 25 for the Wildcats.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org