Swanton got off to a hot start, then made some key free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off a scrappy team from Wauseon, 53-45, at home in NWOAL girls basketball Thursday.
“Their record is probably not where their level of play is,” said Swanton coach Eric Oakes of the 2-18 Indians. “I think they are a scrappy team that can win on any night. We knew that coming in.
“Just a great win for us. Any time you beat Wauseon, no matter what people think about their record, it’s a good win.”
The Bulldogs opened the game on a 14-0 run as Sidney Taylor notched seven points, Cydney Christensen hit a three-pointer and also added a basket in the post, and Haley Nelson scored off a Bulldog steal. A triple by Wauseon’s Alexis Suarez with 55 seconds left in the first made it 14-3 after one.
“We went a little different route tonight then what we usually do defensively,” said Oakes. “Went to zone the whole game, and really tried to make sure they shot it over us. Because they can penetrate to the basket pretty good.”
But as the theme of the night would go, the Indians continued to fight despite giving up several runs to Swanton.
Wauseon’s Rylee Campbell drove hard through the lane for a bucket to begin the second, then Brianna Castellano scored inside and added a basket off a steal on the ensuing Bulldog possession, cutting the Swanton lead to five just over a minute in.
The Dogs responded with two free throws from Christensen, a linedrive three for Taylor, and a triple by Nelson to make it 22-9 at the halfway point of the quarter.
Karli Penrod then drilled a long two-pointer for Wauseon, Castellano added another bucket off a steal, and Alexis Suarez pegged a triple to reduce Swanton’s lead to six at the 2:34 mark. Despite a fastbreak hoop for Nelson, Alexis Suarez scored inside and Campbell on a dribble penetration to pull the Indians within 24-20 at the half.
Wauseon scored 35 seconds into the third period on a hoop from Campbell to get them within two, but Swanton answered with an 8-0 run.
The run began with a hoop from Taylor Dohm, and when she missed on the chance for a three-point play, Christensen was there for a putback basket.
At the 6:17 mark Christensen hit a jump shot for the Dogs, while Ally Hendricks’ bucket on a backdoor cut increased the Swanton lead to 32-22 with 5:05 left in the third.
“We gave up two big sets of runs (to Swanton),” said Wauseon coach Ashley Oyer on the difference in the game. “And you can’t do that when you’re trying to battle back. That makes it tough.”
The two teams would trade buckets, but a stick back for Wauseon’s Aliza Dauterman and Castellano’s three-point play got the Indians within five with just under three minutes left.
Christensen then hit a shot for the Dogs, but Castellano’s fastbreak bucket and a deuce for Kendra Gorczyca made it 36-33 with 50 ticks to go. However, Christensen drew a foul while shooting a three on the next Swanton possession, and she hit 2 of 3 to make it 38-33 heading into the fourth quarter.
Wauseon once again started a quarter with a basket in the fourth, as Mya Suarez’ jumper made it a three point game with still 7:40 to go.
Taylor, however, would take advantage of the Dogs being in the double bonus by getting to the foul line on three straight possessions. She hit 5 of 6 from the charity stripe, and Nelson’s open basket once again ballooned the Swanton lead to 10 at 45-35.
“It seems like every week we are in the same spot,” said Oakes. “We pull these close ones out because we get to the (foul) line at the end of the game and we’re knocking them down.”
Swanton went 9 for 16 from the line in the fourth to close out the Indians.
“They made 8 more free throws than what we did. That’s the difference in the game right there,” noted Oyer. “We had to do a better job of getting to the basket. Or, not fouling in the open court as much. But again, when you’re trying to play from down, then you are trying to make something happen.”
Leading the Dogs were Taylor and Christensen who finished with 17 points each. Alexis Suarez had 14 on four made threes for the Indians, while Castellano added 11.
Swanton is now 4-2 and tied for second in the league race. Several of those wins have been in the single digits, which proves the Bulldogs have been much better in late game situations this season.
“Basically, they are a year older,” said Oakes of his team being able to close out games. “There is a lot of these girls, those juniors, (they) were the main heart of the team last year as sophomores. And that’s hard.”
The Bulldogs close out the NWOAL season at Liberty Center this Thursday. Wauseon is at Rossford Tuesday before hosting Evergreen on Thursday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010