BULLDOG WIN … Swanton junior Miranda Yeager puts up a runner in the lane in a win over Evergreen in their NWOAL opener. (PHOTO BY RENEA KESSLER / THE VILLAGE REPORTER)
By: Jesse Davis
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
SWANTON (January 5, 2024) – Despite trailing by as many as 10 points repeatedly early on, the Lady Bulldogs managed to take the lead in the second half and fend off a surging Evergreen in the final minutes to hold on for a narrow 49-45 victory at home.
In the first few seconds, Swanton senior Peighton Manning put in a layup for what would have given them their only lead in the first half, but due to a simultaneous foul, was awarded no points. Manning caught another foul before the first minute of play had elapsed.
Evergreen junior Addison Ricker, whose speed would make her a dominant threat to the Bulldogs throughout the game, put the first points on the board with a layup.
Junior Kennedy Emmitt followed up by stealing the ball and putting in her own layup just 10 seconds later to bring the score to 4-0.
A pair of layups by Swanton tied the game 4-4 before a Viking run including a free throw from sophomore Avah Vaculik, a breakaway layup from senior Brooke Sintobin, a layup from Ricker after stealing a pass, a free throw from sophomore Kyla Risner, and a basket from junior Ella Burgermeister to put Evergreen up 12-4.
Swanton junior Miranda Yeager sank one from outside to bring the score to 12-7 at the end the first quarter.
The second quarter started much the same, with baskets from Sintobin and Risner to put the Vikings up 16-7.
Bulldog senior Olivia Gowing tried to staunch the bleeding with a three to drop their lead to 16-10, but a quick basket from Ricker and a pair of free throws from Vaculik put them back up 20-10.
A quick five for Swanton came from a three by Manning and a basket from sophomore Lauren Bettinger, but Evergreen immediately sprang back with a solo run from Ricker, who sank two baskets and a single free throw to bring the Vikings lead back to double digits at 25-15.
With less than two minutes to go, the Bulldogs found their fire with a shot from outside by Bettinger, a basket from Manning, and a free throw from Gowing followed immediately by a rebound and basket from Finfera when Gowing missed her second shot, putting the Swanton girls within two at 25-23.
Trying to maintain their own momentum at the end of the half, Risner sank a no-pause three pointer that left her hands with under a second remaining on the clock to bring the score to 28-23.
It would be Swanton to keep their momentum going to start the second half, putting up a massive eight point run and taking the lead for the first time in the game thanks to three baskets from senior Alexia Ostrander and one from Finfera to put the Bulldogs ahead 31-28.
Evergreen would, throughout the remainder of the third quarter, capitalize on a pair of free throws each from Emmitt and Vaculik, but Swanton would answer with baskets from Bettinger and senior Samantha Nelson, a basket and two free throws from senior Ava Keiser, and free throws from Gowing and Finfera to increase their lead to 41-32
With the end in sight, the Vikings regained momentum to begin the final quarter, putting up seven points of their own through a pair of baskets from Vaculik and a three from Emmitt.
A Bulldog basket from Manning was followed up by one from Ricker and a free throw from Evergreen sophomore Bailey Lumbrezer to bring Evergreen to within 43-42 with only two minutes on the clock.
After a shot up close from Finfera brought the score to 45-42 with less than 90 seconds remaining, it became a game of fouls and free throws. In that time, the Bulldogs would be at the line three times to the Vikings’ two.
In those visits, the Bulldogs’ Finfera and Bettinger would put up four points to the three from the Vikings’ Emmitt to give Swanton a 49-45 win.