Dontel Highsmith (center) was honored for scoring his 1,000 career point Tuesday night prior to Dowagiac’s game with Vicksburg. Highsmith celebrated the feet with 40 more points. (Daily News Photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Archived Story

Highsmith explodes in second half

Published 11:31pm Monday, January 23, 2012

Dontel Highsmith exploded for 33 second half points to lead Dowagiac to an 84-74 victory over visiting Vicksburg Monday night in Wolverine Conference boys basketball action.

Highsmith finished with a game-high 40 points for the Chieftains, who improve to 6-1 in the league and 8-2 overall.

While Highsmith did a majority of the scoring in the game, its was three shots by Brendon Murray that helped keep the Chieftains out in front of the hard-charging Bulldogs.

Murray hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter that kept Dowagiac out in front and allowed the Chieftains to take a 40-39 lead into the locker room at the intermission.

“Brendon came up big tonight,” Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt said. “He’s starting to get a lot better shooting the ball. Hopefully he can become consistent because we need somebody who can knock that shot down. I have been looking for someone to step in and do that until we can get D.J. (Hunt) back out there. It looks like Brendon might be the guy.”

Both teams had the same game plan coming into Monday night’s make-up contest.

Each squad wanted to push the ball up and down the floor. Neither team made too many defensive stops.

Dowagiac poured in 25 points to open the game and led 23-12 with 48 seconds left in the first quarter. But Vicksburg (6-3, 4-2 Wolverine) wouldn’t go away and cut the advantage to 25-18 by the end of the period.

The two teams continued to race up and down the floor and the Bulldogs eventually caught the Chieftains and took a 26-25 lead with 5:51 to play in the first half on a basket by Bret Ovens.

Over the final six minutes, the game was tied twice until Murray’s 3-pointer with 1:37 left in the second quarter gave Dowagiac the lead for the remainder of the half.

The Chieftains led 40-39 at the break.

After a quick early exchanged of baskets and the lead to start the third quarter, Dowagiac finally was able to build a 10-point advantage (62-52) heading into the final minute of the third.

The Bulldogs continued to work and trailed 62-55 as the horn sounded and the two teams headed to the final quarter.

The lead stayed between seven and five points for much of the final quarter.

Dowagiac moved Highsmith, who scored 15 points in the third quarter, down on the block where Vicksburg had no answer for him.

Down the stretch, they were forced to foul and he went to the line for 12 fourth quarter foul shots. He connected on 10 of them to keep the Bulldogs at bay.

Moving Highsmith to the block, along with the play of Eric Charles and transfer Gavin Taylor, gave Dowagiac a presence in the paint it hasn’t had all season.

The trio combined for 54 points, including 12 from Charles, who did most of his damage in the opening 16 minutes of play.

“We knew coming into tonight’s game that we were going to have a size and strength advantage on the inside, so we kind of focused on pounding the ball inside,” Hunt said. “Eric Charles showed up big in there and then Gavin, this being his first game, he did a fabulous job there in the post. Not only scoring buckets, but rebounding and recognizing the double teams and dumping the ball down in there and assisting Dontel in getting those baskets.”

Besides the output of Highsmith and Charles, Dowagiac also got 13 points from Murray.

Cody Getsinger had 21 points for the Bulldogs, who also got 19 points from Drew Mallery and 17 points from Abe Barwegen.

“I told the guys at the beginning of the game that Vicksburg will come in and accept the challenge to run,” Hunt said. “I told them the first team to 90 points wins the game and we almost got there. I told them we are going to have to score 90 points if we are going to get into a running game with them.

“Vicksburg is one of those teams that never stops coming. I like their effort, their hustle, their heart and their attitude.”

VICKSBURG 74

Cody Getsinger 8 4-6 21; Colin McCaw 3 1-2 7; Grant Johnson 0 0-0 0; Caleb Breitenbach 0 0-0 0; Abe Barwegen 7 1-1 17; Jesser Boulnemour 3 0-0 6; Drew Mallery 7 5-6 19; Bret Ovens 2 0-0 4. TOTALS: 30 11-15 74

DOWAGIAC 84

Dontel Highsmith 12 15-19 40; Davion Highsmith 3 0-0 7; Craig Zebell 2 0-0 4; Todd McIntyre 0 0-0 0; Joey Pasternak 0 0-0 0; Taylor Gavin 1 0-1 2; Brendon Murray 5 0-0 13; Tyler Clark 2 0-0 6; Matt Smith 0 0-0 0; Eric Charles 6 0-0 12. TOTALS: 31 15-20 84

Vicksburg 18 39 55 74

Dowagiac 25 40 62 84

3-point baskets: Vicksburg 3 (Getsinger, Barwegen 2), Dowagiac 7 (Do. Highsmith, Da. Highsmith, Murray 3, Clark 2). Total fouls (fouled out): Vicksburg 15 (none), Dowagiac 13 (none). Varsity records: Vicksburg 6-3, 4-2 Wolverine), 8-2, 6-1 Wolverine

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