Remember the movie “Christmas Story” when Ralphie wrote an essay on what a great gift a Red Ryder BB Gun would be and his teacher danced across the room writing A+++++++++ on the blackboard?
Swanton, especially Andrew Thornton turned in that A+++++ performance, while Evergreen turned in what Ralphie really got, a C- defensively inside, with “C” standing for Charmin, as the Bulldogs broke away late for a 50-40 early season win.
“We wanted to make their two best players (Nate Brighton and Mason Loeffler) guard late in the game,” said Swanton coach Joel Visser. “We wanted to continue to screen and move the basketball. We felt like they had less depth than we did so we wanted them to continue to work and get the ball inside.”
Actually the Bulldogs plan started off early as lengthy possessions turned the first half into a blur time wise.
Mason Loeffler scored one basket and dished to Ethan Loeffler for two more but Swanton countered with a a Josh Vance basket, and triples from Thornton and Sam Betz to forge a tie at 8-8.
If the first quarter was slow the second was a crawl.
Betz basket almost three minutes into the second put the Bulldogs on top and Thornton scored the last eight to give Swanton an 18-12 lead at the break.
The 6’4” junior hit 2-2 from the line, one three that was and then got credited on another that wasn’t, when he hit a 16-footer off glass to end the half.
“That’s a pace where we are better at what we do,” explained Visser. “We have two guys who are our scorers and we like to get them touches each possession.”
Evergreen pushed the pace in the third quarter, as Jack Etue hit Brighton for his first basket of the night, then Ethan Loeffler for another before knocking down a triple from the head of the key to slice the Swanton lead to 23-19 with 5:24 left.
However Thornton and Justyn Bartlett scored eight of the final 10 Bulldog points to maintain a six point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Two more baskets from Ethan Loeffler and another from Evan Lumbrezer only could keep Evergreen in a six point hole as Vance went 4-4 from the line and Thornton scored inside.
Mason Loeffler’s three-point play with 3:21 left got Evergreen back within five but Betz followed with a long triple and Thornton scored the last seven late to extend the lead.
“He’s our guy,” Visser said of Thornton. “We wanted to make them defend inside and he is our guy in that situation.”
“And Betz just hit a big shot when they made a run at us too. Our role players did a fine job tonight.”
Thornton had 24 to lead all scorers while Bartlett chipped in with 10 for Swanton (2-0).
Mason Loeffler had 14 to lead Evergreen.
Ethan Loeffler had 12.
Evergreen came back the night after and held off Otsego 69-67 in double overtime.
Brighton rebounded from his subpar night Friday with 26 points and 18 rebounds to pace the Vikings, who are now 2-1.
Mason Loeffler had 21 and Etue 10 as the Vikes had to survive a chuckfest of three-pointers, 13-28 in all, by the Knights.
Evergreen will next host Cardinal Stritch on Thursday. Swanton hosts North Central Saturday.