For one half, Swanton and Evergreen took the game of basketball back to the days of James Naismith and the peach basket nailed on the barn.
However, in the second half, the Bulldogs’ trio of Haley Nelson, Cydney Christensen and Sidney Taylor scored 33 of Swanton’s 34 points to top the Vikings 50-41, avenging a 40-26 romp by Evergreen back in December.
“The first time we played Evergreen their pressure got to us,” said Bulldog mentor Eric Oakes. “This time I thought we beat it in the first half but then we would turn the ball over in a wide open court or force a bad shot. The first half, both teams, they would miss some easy shots and we couldn’t shoot the ball, we weren’t even close in the first half.
“I told them keep shooting, square up a little better and they will fall. Haley Nelson hit a couple big ones for us in the third quarter, Sid Taylor hit one and Cyd Christensen, the last two games she’s had some really good energy for us and that’s what we need out of her.”
There were more turnovers than points in an ugly first quarter as the teams almost evenly split 5 for 19 shooting and 15 turnovers.
Evergreen made the most out of those opportunities, using a pair of Alyssa Noe baskets and one each from Bailie Sutter and Hannah Herr to take a 9-5 lead.
Swanton caught the Vikes at the 6:09 mark of the second at 11-11 on Ally Hendricks’ wing jumper, but again 10 more turnovers split five each hampered each team offensively.
Lexie Shipman regained a Viking lead when she laced a triple with 49 seconds left but that was answered 18 seconds later when Abby Arnold banged in a triple off the glass to tie the game at the half.
But then came the big third by the Bulldogs as Nelson drilled a pair of triples, Taylor a third and Christensen got into the key twice for scores to counter two buckets from Abi Borojevich and Herr, including a triple from each, to take a 34-28 lead.
Evergreen didn’t go away as Sutter led a fourth quarter charge with a wing jumper, a dish to Borojevich for a score, and after Shipman drained another triple from the top of the key, Sutter knocked in both ends of a 1-and-1 to give Evergreen a 38-37 lead with 2:31 to go.
However, instead of forcing turnovers as they have all year, Evergreen committed four straight and the Bulldogs cashed in each time to go on a 10-0 run.
Taylor and Christensen each hit a pair from the foul line, Bridget Harlett split a pair, then Nelson scored the last five on two steal-and-scores and another split at the line.
“There were some big rebounds in the fourth by Taylor Dohm too,” said Oakes. “We are getting better. Early in the year we would have six or seven minutes of ‘what are we doing out there’ and we are fighting through now. Last year we lost I don’t know how many close games by three or less, this year we are winning those kinds of games.
“I’m happy for the girls, that’s a big win especially over here at Evergreen.”
Swanton shot the ball much better in the second half hitting 9 of 20 and committed only eight turnovers compared to 13 in the first half.
Evergreen never really did get off the slide shooting the ball, hitting just 9 of 28 in the second half and 33 percent for the game.
Nelson’s 20 points led the Bulldogs. Taylor also hit double figures with 12.
Noe led Evergreen with 11.
Evergreen (7-7, 0-4 NWOAL) is back in action against Fayette tonight and then again with Delta Thursday as both games are at home.
Swanton (11-6, 1-3) plays Patrick Henry at home on Thursday.
Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]