A 3 ½ minute scoreless drought had to feel like forever for the Swanton Lady Bulldogs. Up by 10 with 4:36 to play, Swanton went scoreless for 3 ½ as Delta cut the lead to one, however, the Bulldogs snapped their streak in time to claim a 50-44 win over the Panthers to open Northwest Ohio Athletic League girls basketball play Friday.
With the win, Swanton earned the season sweep over Delta.
“Both of them mean a lot to us,” Swanton coach Eric Oakes said of the sweep. “These girls work hard so we cherish all the wins.”
The Bulldogs took a 45-35 lead when Bridget Harlett was in the right place at the right time. On a scramble to save a loose ball headed out of bounds, Delta’s Abby Freeman hurled the ball to Harlett, who was able to score for Swanton. It would be the last score for Swanton until the final 1:12 of the game.
“We were getting looks, but every time we got the ball to the post, we had a good look but they starting rolling out,” Oakes said of not scoring in the period. “The girls kept working so hard and did great job defensively.”
In the meantime, Delta rallied back from the charity stripe. Already in the bonus, Freeman dropped in a pair and Mattimore added one free throw to trim the lead to 45-38 with 3:52 left. After a timeout and defensive stop, Mattimore sank two free throws and Hayley Callahan, who led the Panthers with 16 points, converted a three-point play with two minutes left.
The basket was the only field goal Delta made in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t shoot very well,” admitted Delta coach Ryan Ripke. “It just didn’t bounce our way tonight.”
Delta had a couple opportunities at the lead but couldn’t get the ball in the basket. They settled for a Mary Miller free throw with 1:20 left to pull within one at 45-44.
However, from there Swanton snapped out of its offensive funk. Haley Nelson and Sidney Taylor, who led the Bulldogs offensively, each dropped a pair of free throws. Ally Hendricks added one final toss with 25.6 seconds to play to make the final 50-44.
Delta never led as Swanton took a 14-10 lead at the end of the first period and led 27-22 at the half. The Bulldogs led 39-33 after the third quarter and stretched the lead when Taylor opened the final period with a trey.
Taylor finished with 18 points and Nelson added 17.
“Sidney Taylor had a big game for us,” Oakes said, talking about Taylor and both ends of the floor. “That’s the scoring we think she can provide for us.”
Delta had a tough time defending both players.
“We were trying to contain Nelson’s penetration and that left Taylor open,” said Ripke. “They shot the ball very well. Both teams played hard. They made some shots and we didn’t.”
Despite 16 points in the paint from Callahan, Cydney Christensen was a force inside. Defensively she challenged everything Delta put up as the Panthers were just 11 of 27 from the floor. Offensively, she added nine points.
The Lady Panthers made just one three-pointer in the contest. Mattimore finished with 13 points and Freeman had 12. The two combined to score 14 points from the free throw line.
“That was the gameplan, to make sure there was a hand in the face of Freeman and Mattimore,” Oakes said of the defensive effort. “The post for them in the first half really opened up.”
Both teams picked up Saturday wins. Delta beat Ottawa Hills 50-33. Freeman led the way with 16 points and Mattimore chipped in 15 points. Swanton was a 45-26 winner over Toledo Christian.
Swanton (8-4, 1-0 NWOAL) plays host to Archbold Friday in league play. Delta (8-3, 0-1) visits Anthony Wayne Tuesday before playing at Wauseon Friday.
Reach Randy Roberts at [email protected]