Some 10 days ago, with five games left during that time, Swanton girls basketball coach Eric Oakes said his Bulldogs needed to take care of their home ground in four of those heading into the OHSAA tournament.
The Bulldogs continued to make that prophecy come true with a 47-45 overtime win over the Delta Panthers Thursday night.
Swanton boosted their record to 16-5 on the season.
The loss cost Delta a tie for the Northwest Ohio Athletic League crown after Wauseon lost to Patrick Henry, giving the Panthers an opportunity to grab a share.
Reagan Rouleau’s dish to Brooklyn Wymer, then her own score off a turnover, and a Brooklyn Green triple gave Delta an early 7-1 lead with 3:15 left in the opening stanza.
It would be almost 11 minutes before the Panthers hit again from the floor.
Frankie Nelson’s three-ball and Jessica Dohm’s bucket got the Bulldogs back to a two point deficit at 8-6 at the quarter, and Aricka Lutz put the Bulldogs ahead with a second chance hoop at the 6:16 mark of the second.
Lutz hit two more baskets – including another off an offensive rebound – and Dohm also scored on a putback to inflate the Bulldog lead to 17-8 with 1:22 left.
Braelyn Wymer’s 3-pointer broke a 10 minute, 43 second drought in which the Panthers went 0-for-11 from the field, and kept Delta within 19-13 at the half.
“Our zone is a little different with Frankie on top of it,” explained Oakes of the Panthers’ 11-minute dry spell from the floor. “She has a lot of length and can travel from side to side well and that helps contest a lot. Our rebounding was very good then as well (the Bulldogs had a 10-4 advantage on the glass in the quarter). We ran with that crew from that point through most of the second half I believe becauase they were getting the job done.”
Green’s drive got the Panthers back to a one possession margin at 20-17 with 5:17 to go in the third, but Nelson’s transition layup, then Morgan Pine’s 2-for-2 from the stripe and putback regained a nine point lead.
Pine’s second stickback with 1:10 on the clock gave Swanton a 31-23 lead heading into the fourth.
“Morgan just gets in there and gets after it,” Oakes said of his senior forward. “She is stronger, more aggressive, she does a nice job inside for us and her work at the line has come a long way. Her free throw shooting previously was not good at all and she worked very hard to get better and she hit a few tonight, more than what she has in the past.”
After Pine’s third basket inside with 6:39 left that retained a 33-25 lead, Delta fought back into the contest as Rouleau put her teammates on her back and carried them for the next five minutes.
The junior forward scored 12 of the next 13 Panther points on 4-for-4 from the foul line, a pair of left-corner triples and a fast break basket to shave the Swanton lead to 40-38 with 1:32 left when Green’s spin move knotted the score at 40.
Averie Lutz’ move inside put Swanton up 42-40 with 1:15 left, but Brooklyn Wymer hits both ends of a one-and-one 25 seconds later that would send the game into an extra four minutes.
Ella Ford dropped a triple with 2:37 left to push Delta on top at 45-42, but after Pine split a pair at the line, Averie Lutz nailed a deep three at the 1:33 mark to put Swanton ahead for good.
“I liked the look in Averie’s eyes, she didn’t get the layup to go at the end of regulation but you knew she was going to get another chance,” said Oakes of Lutz’ go-ahead shot. “That 3-pointer after they hit one was the one that put us over the top. If she misses that, Delta is probably co-champs right now but she buried it and I was really happy for her.”
After another split at the stripe, Delta had chances to tie but couldn’t get one to fall as the Bulldogs survived to win.
For the game, Swanton went 15-for-40 from the floor, while the Panthers were just 15 of 45.
Rouleau led all scorers with 14 points but was the only Delta player to reach double figures. Each Lutz had 11 and Pine 10 for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs drew a first round bye in the Division III sectional and will play the winner of Northwood and Otsego Saturday night at Bowling Green. They beat Northwood Saturday to finish the regular season 17-5.
Delta plays Genoa in a doubleheader nightcap at Springfield tomorrow night and with a win, will also play for a sectional title Saturday at Springfield.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com