Delta came up with a stellar defensive effort and used four second half Gabe Freeman triples to knock off Swanton, 47-38, and pick up their first win of the season after nine losses Thursday.
“It’s what we worked on all week,” Panther coach Jeremy Lohman said of his teams defensive effort. “You know where their horses are. You know (Zach) Dzienglewski down low is a force. You have to front him and double him from behind and it’s the same with Gunnar (Oakes). Overall it was a max amount of effort from every kid on the floor. They bought in to what we were trying to sell this week that if you shut down Gunnar and Dzienglewski you have a chance. When those two average 35 of their 45 as a team, you have to do something there.”
Taking the Bulldogs out of their sweet spots was apparent immediately as Swanton shot just 1 of 8 in the first quarter, on a reverse layup by Oakes with 52 seconds left, along with six turnovers.
A pair of hoops each from Freeman and Brady Wymer, two of which came off Bulldog turnovers, put the Panthers up 10-4.
Swanton got within 12-10 midway throught the second when Nick Koback hit his only basket of the night on a left corner triple, and Oakes got a dunk off a turnover.
However, Giorgio Festinoni got loose on a right-to-left baseline move and Peyton Phillips hit a baseline jumper to regain a six point Delta lead at the half.
Dzienglewski scored twice inside and Oakes hit a pair off glass around a Freeman three-ball, slicing the Panther lead to 19-18 but Delta answered when Festinoni found Zak Davis for a hoop and scored twice himself from in the key to help Delta extend their advantage back to 28-22 at the third quarter horn.
“Giorgio struggled in the first half playing within the system,” said Lohman. “Sometimes you just have to let him go play. He sees the floor better than most people out there. People collapse on him because of that first step and he finds Gabe out there and you know he’s seeing that.”
Oakes scored Swanton’s first nine points of the fourth around a Phillips bucket and a Wymer three-pointer to make it 33-31 with 3:24 left. But, again it was Festinoni going to the left side this time for a pump fake and jumper, then Freeman knocked down back-to-back triples to give Delta a 41-35 lead before the Panthers hit 6 of 8 from the foul line coming down the stretch.
“This group of kids, we’ve had some bad losses this year,” said Lohman. “What I love about this group is they just don’t waiver. They go, they really go, and this was the first time they have put it all together for the community to see because they can’t come to practice to see how hard these kids work. It was one of those proud dad moments, almost that they finally got out of their shell and showed the rest of the community they can play.”
Freeman’s 17 led all Delta scorers, while Festinoni and Wymer each had 11.
Oakes was the only Bulldog in double figures with 23.
Dogs clipped by Knights
Swanton got snakebit again two nights later at home when Paul Glassford’s baseline jumper with 11.8 left gave Otsego a 53-52 victory to drop the Bulldogs to 3-7 on the season.
Swanton had come back from a six point fourth quarter deficit to take a 52-51 lead on a steal and score by Oakes, but missed a last second shot that would’ve been a game winner after Glassford’s hoop.
“The kids battled,” said Bulldog coach Matt Smith. “That’s all you can do. Kids are battling but we didn’t finish very well inside, I think that hurt us a little bit and the biggest difference is that we didn’t get back in transition very well and we let them get some easy baskets. I think that was the difference in the game. We got a good look at the end but that wasn’t the play that lost us the game. They took the shot we wanted them to take and we took the shot that we wanted to have. Their shot went in.”
Oakes again led Bulldgo scorers with 26. Duyane Goings added 10 for the 3-7 Bulldogs.
Swanton is at Archbold Thursday to begin league play, while Delta (1-9) hosts Wauseon.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com