Bulldogs win two close games, take third at home tournament
McLouth boys vs. Maranatha
The Bulldog boys needed overtime to defeat Maranatha on Saturday, but held on for a 49-46 win to take third at the McLouth Invitational.
Since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, McLouth boys coach Jason Schroeder has stressed the importance of preparing for tournament play. His squad got a taste of a tournament atmosphere last week at the 25th McLouth Invitational.
The Bulldogs showed their ability to win close games, going 2-1 to claim third place honors.
Schroeder's group opened tournament play in thrilling fashion, as it squeaked out a 51-49 win over Jeff West in Tuesday's first round action. Senior Gavin Swearngin led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while Walbridge and senior Shawn Dailey each added 10.
The Bulldogs trailed by five at the end of the third quarter, but outscored the Tigers 15-8 in the final period. That stretch including the game-winning shot by junior Marc Walbridge in the game's final seconds.
"Against Jeff West, I thought we played tough and showed mental toughness," Schroeder said. "We were behind the whole game, but we just kept fighting and keeping it close. That gave us a chance at the end and it paid off. Marc Walbridge had a huge shot right at the end of the game."
The victory set up a rematch with a Jefferson County North squad that handed McLouth a 64-34 loss earlier this season. The Bulldogs kept things closer this time around, but couldn't get by the Chargers in a 52-38 defeat on Friday.
JCN jumped out to a 32-23 advantage at halftime and capitalized on some McLouth miscues to pull away down the stretch.
"We made a few mental mistakes, especially at the end of the second half," Schroeder said. "We let a four-point deficit turn into a nine-point deficit in 30 seconds. That shot us in the foot a little bit, but I was still happy we could hang with them better than we did the first time."
Walbridge and senior Gavin Swearngin led the Bulldogs with 14 points each.
McLouth needed extra time to seal the deal, but got back in the win column with a 49-46 overtime victory over Maranatha in Saturday's third place game.
After grabbing a 13-6 lead after one period, McLouth allowed Maranatha to close the gap to 23-21 at intermission. The struggles continued in the third quarter, in which Maranatha went in front, but the Bulldogs did just enough in the fourth to force overtime. They only managed five points in the extra period, but limited the Eagles to just two to escape with the win.
"Of course, we were tired," Schroeder said. "We couldn't get a lot of shots to go. We put a lot of pressure on our defense because we didn't score a lot of points, but we took care of things on the glass and squeaked out a win in overtime."
Following tournament play, the Bulldogs were 8-4. They traveled to Maranatha on Thursday and will head Feb. 3 to Riverside (Wathena).
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