Despite Swanton’s best effort to slow the game down, Wauseon held them to just 11 points for the first 18:52 of the game to defeat the Bulldogs at home 48-32 Friday night in NWOAL boys basketball.
“I thought we did a nice job on the offensive boards,” said Wauseon coach Chad Burt on his team’s performance. “I said (before the game), the offensive rebounds both ways were gonna be critical. We got our fair share, but they certainly got their fair share.
“I thought, as a whole, we attacked their pressure pretty well with some different guys.”
The Bulldogs scored first on Zach Dziengelewski’s bucket on an inbound play, however, those were their only points of the quarter.
Wauseon got on the board on Owen Newlove’s putback at the 3:24 mark, then Brendan Britsch buried an open triple, and Brooks Gype knocked down two free throws after he was fouled as the final seconds ticked off in the first quarter. This gave the Indians a 7-2 advantage after one.
“One, they did a nice job just being in the right spots. Their wasn’t too many driving lanes,” said Swanton mentor Matt Smith of the Wauseon defense. “The other thing, I think the key for them was, they just had so many deflections. (Carter) Bzovi was just a monster at the top of their 1-3-1 (zone defense).
“Part of the problem was, we didn’t hit enough outside shots. We took some. I thought we had some open looks against it, but they weren’t falling.”
The Indians held their biggest lead of the first half after two free throws each for Carter Bzovi and Newlove to make it 19-8 with 1:11 left until halftime.
For Newlove, he finished with a game high 17 points.
“You never know (in) big games who’s gonna step up and make plays,” said Burt. “And I thought Owen was very active all night long. He attacked off the dribble a little bit. Got to the rim. Did a great job on the offensive boards. That was kind of a coming out party for Owen.”
A long range bomb for Nick Koback of Swanton equaled the first half tally of 19-11.
The Indians came out strong in the third and scored the first 12 points.
Newlove got it started with a putback basket, and after Swanton’s Gunnar Oakes came up empty at the foul line, Gype hit a shot for the Indians. The Indians then got a pair of triples from Bzovi, the second after a Wauseon steal, pushing their lead to 31-11 at the 5:57 mark of the third.
“Coming out (strong) in the third quarter I thought was huge. We had a huge spurt,” said Burt. “We knocked some shots down, and anytime you knock shots down that makes everything look a little bit better.”
However, the Dogs refused to quit as they went on a 12-6 run to close out the quarter.
Tanner Prentice hit a three-pointer for Swanton and Oakes added a bucket off a steal, but the Indians countered with buckets from Newlove and Bzovi.
The Dogs then got a tip in from Randy Slink, Oakes’ slam dunk after a steal, and a three-point play from Koback to cut Wauseon’s lead to 35-23 with 46 seconds left in the third.
But, the advantage for the Indians would sit at 14 points heading into the fourth as Bzovi knocked down a pair at the line in the closing seconds.
Both squads traded deuce’s to begin the fourth, then a Dziengelewski three-point play made it 39-28 2:17 in.
However, the Indians got a three-point play from Newlove to squash the Bulldogs’ momentum.
“We wanted to try to slow it down a little bit. And I figured, if we get this fairly close in the fourth quarter, then we could play. We could speed it up and play,” said Smith of his team’s strategy going into the game. “But it’s tough. They came out in the third quarter and really punched us in the mouth.
“But I was really proud because, they hit us in the mouth. Scored about an 8-0 run or so and pushed (the lead) to 20-21. And we called timeout and the kids responded. That’s a good sign going into tournament. They didn’t blink, they didn’t quit.”
After Newlove, Bzovi was Wauseon’s second leading scorer with 14. Oakes had 12 points for Swanton.
Wauseon (18-1, 5-0 NWOAL) is at Evergreen in NWOAL action this Friday. Swanton (8-11, 2-3) plays host to Liberty Center.
Also, both teams learned on Sunday where they would open up tournament play.
The Bulldogs are in the Division III Toledo District, and will square off with Lake in the sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. at Bowsher Wednesday, March 1. Wauseon, competing in the Division II Bowling Green District, takes on the winnner of Maumee and Bowling Green for the sectional championship at Anthony Wayne on March 3 at approximately 8 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010