Dogs win NWOAL opener, 43-36

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor and Enterprise

When it was all said and done, Swanton made more shots than Evergreen did in the fourth quarter, as the Bulldogs used an 8-0 run to take a 43-36 win over the Vikings.

One of the pre-season favorites, the Bulldogs took an opening night win in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball campaign.

It was Swanton’s first league win over the Vikings, ranked fifth in Division III, since the 2016-17 season. They bested Evergreen in their non-league contest last season.

“This was huge,” said Bulldog coach Joel Visser. “It was control your own destiny from the start today. We got to win today to have control because you don’t have double rounds, you only play everyone once and you can’t afford to lose. We played Central and Napoleon early and lost some games that really prepared us and we haven’t been healthy either. For the first time all year we have everyone — especially with Andrew (Thornton) coming back last week — and we are starting to click.”

After it took the Vikings Eli Keifer’s split at the free throw line two and a half minutes into the game for someone to dent the scoreboard, Swanton responded with a 9-0 burst — mostly created after three of Evergreen’s five first quarter turnovers.

Cole Mitchey started and finished the run with baskets off two of those miscues.

Thornton knocked in a triple and Josh Vance’s drive helped push the lead to 9-1.

Austin Lumbrezer’s long-range missile from above the key at the buzzer was the Vikes only first quarter field goal.

That would change in the second stanza.

Thornton’s power move 15 seconds into the frame boosted the Swanton lead back to seven before Evergreen began a run of their own.

RJ Shunck got loose on a feed from Keifer, then Evan Lumbrezer took over. The Vikes’ junior guard stroked a triple from the right side, beat a Bulldog defender on a drive, then left everyone frozen on a stop-and-go pull up jumper to give Evergreen a 13-11 lead.

Lumbrezer’s second three-ball of the quarter pushed the Vikes up 16-13, but Thornton stuck a tough jumper with a Viking in his face and Mitchey’s second-chance three-point play brought the Bulldogs even by halftime.

Ethan Loeffler’s putback with 4:50 left in the third gave the Vikings a 24-21 lead before Hayden Callicotte responded with a triple to knot the game again.

Lumbrezer again hit a pull up but Thornton’s zip feed to Vance through traffic for a layup kept the Bulldogs within two.

“We tried so hard to guard Lumbrezer,” explained Visser. “He is so under control and so smooth. We were having a hard time stopping him at the elbows so we decided to put Josh Vance on him in the fourth and see if the length could give us a little advantage which I thought was the difference defensively for us.”

Starting the fourth quarter the Vikings began to misfire, especially at the foul stripe where they went a very uncharacteristic 4-12 on the night. Swanton took advantage of this.

Mitchey got his third putback of the night to get Swanton within 29-28 and Vance gave the Bulldogs the lead for good with a drive at the 6:18 mark.

Brock Hudik’s three-point try went half way down and popped out and this time it was Thornton with a up-and-under post move to increase the lead to 32-29, and Mitchey capped the streak with a bucket to move the lead to five.

Loeffler’s two buckets and Keifer’s triple were countered by a triple from Thornton and another by Callicotte to hold off the Vikings in the last two minutes.

“Cole Mitchey had big baskets for us, Hayden Callicotte, Trent Weigel, they hit big buckets as role players. I mean, that was the difference,” stated Visser.

“We said if we win the fourth quarter, that we would win the game. We had to hit the glass, we had to shut down Lumbrezer and we had to play inside-out and be successful doing it and we did all three and had to do all three. I give all the credit to our kids.”

For the game, Evergreen was 14-32 from the floor and after the flurry of first quarter turnovers, only were guilty of two the rest of the way.

Swanton shot 18-37 for the night and had just five turnovers.

Lumbrezer had 18 to lead all scorers, along with seven rebounds. Thornton and Mitchey each had 12 for Swanton.

The Dogs were back in action Saturday but fell at Division IV’s seventh ranked team, Toledo Christian 61-34.

Swanton (5-5, 1-0 NWOAL) has a home date versus Clay (1-1) Tuesday and resumes league action at Patrick Henry (5-7, 0-1) on Friday. Evergreen (9-2, 0-1) travels to Delta (0-11, 0-1) Friday and Pettisville on Saturday.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor and Enterprise

Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]

Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]