Free throws are not exactly free. If you make them the payoff can be huge. Miss them and you can pay the ultimate cost. The Swanton Lady Bulldogs sank 18 of 26 free throws in the Sectional Championship game against the Eastwood Eagles while the Eagle could only manage to make 6 of 18 attempts. It was the biggest factor in Swanton’s 41-36 victory, capturing their first Sectional Title in nine years.
“We shoot them (free throws) every day in practice,” said Bulldog guard Sydney Taylor. “In a close game like this it really makes a difference.”
Taylor drained 7 of 8 foul shots on her way to 12 points in the contest.
Cydney Christensen had a game high 13 points, including eight from the foul line. “We shut down their shooters,” she said commenting on the Bulldogs’ defensive effort. “They had seven threes the last time we played them.”
Swanton found themselves in an early 9-2 hole but battled back to take a 12-11 lead in the second quarter. The half ended with the Bulldogs on top 16-14 in a low scoring affair.
They were forced to rally again in the second half when the third quarter ended with the Eagles holding a 24-21 advantage. Swanton managed to tie the game at 29 all with 4:38 left in the game and finally took the lead for good on a short jumper from Ally Hendricks a little more than a minute later.
When the lead grew to 34-30 Eastwood began to foul hoping to get back in the game but Taylor hit four straight to nail down the win.
“It was a big win for the girls. We wanted that one really bad,” said Bulldog coach Eric Oakes. “The girls have worked so hard this year and we wanted to make sure we got this one.”
Next up for Swanton is the number one seeded Archbold Blue Streaks. The game will be played on Thursday, March 2, starting at 8:00 pm at Lake High School.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org