Charles helps Chiefs top RedskinsPublished 5:55pm Saturday, February 25, 2012
With his team struggling, Dowagiac boys basketball player Eric Charles proved a much needed boost in the second half against Paw Paw.
Charles, who’s a 6-foot-5 senior, scored 10 of his 12 points, grabbed six of his 11 rebounds, had a steal and blocked a shot over the final 16 minutes to help the Chieftains hold off the Redskins, 76-66, in Wolverine Conference play.
“Eric was huge,” said Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt. “It seemed as if when Eric was out of the game (in the second half) we struggled. When Eric was in the game we started to get some momentum and started to run. We had their two big guys in foul trouble so our focal point was to give Eric the ball down low and have them defend. I told Eric to be more aggressive. That kind of changed the momentum for us and we were able to get some breathing room and come out with a win.”
Dowagiac seemed in control after taking a 38-20 lead in the second quarter. The Chieftains still had a comfortable lead of 45-31 going into halftime. Paw Paw’s Tanner Eubank made a 3-pointer as time expired to cut into the lead. Dowagiac’s defense forced nine Paw Paw turnovers in the first half with many of those miscues turning into baskets for the Chieftains. The Redskins also shot only 37-percent (11-of-30) from the field in the first half and were outrebounded by Dowagiac, 21-15, over the first 16 minutes.
“Our defensive effort in the first half was incredible,” Hunt said.
But the Chieftains were unable to build on their halftime lead. Paw Paw pulled within 56-51 after getting a field goal from Marquise Gill with 5:47 left in the game.
Dowagiac wouldn’t allow Paw Paw to get any closer as the Chieftains went on a 10-2 run to take a 71-57 lead with 2:40 left in the game. The run started with Charles hitting 1-of-2 free throws and connecting on a rebound basket.
“No explanation,” Hunt said about his team’s second half struggles. “I don’t think the 3-pointer (at the end of the second quarter) was a momentum shifter. In fact, they were still down 14. We just came out and had a flat third quarter. In the third quarter, we shot a lot of 3’s and only made one. We went 1-for-13 shooting 3’s during the while second half. That’s not good. I’ve been telling the guys that we have to put together a complete 32 minutes if we’re going to be a very good team come tournament time. We haven’t done that yet. We’re still working on that.”
Dowagiac missed nine its 12 shots in the third quarter and turned the ball over three times.
Dontel Highsmith scored 28 points, grabbed seven rebounds, had five steals, two blocked shots and a crowd lifting dunk for the Chieftains. Kyle Solloway added 12 points off the bench. Gill led Paw Paw with 27 points.
Last year’s Class B Final Four team was honored before the varsity game.
“Our kids wanted to come out and show that we’re still a championship caliber team,” Hunt said.
PAW PAW 66
Christian Brian 0 0-0 0, Marquise Gill 9 5-10 27, Luke Vavra 6 8-12 21, Tanner Eubank 3 0-2 8, Gabe Guilbee 2 0-0 4, DeMarcus Leak 0 0-2 0, Matt Cervan 2 0-0 6, Cody Warner 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22 13-26 66
Dontel Highsmith 9 8-11 28, Brendon Murray 2 1-2 5, Tyler Clark 3 0-0 8, Eric Charles 5 2-5 12, Craig Zebell 1 0-0 2, Kyle Solloway 3 5-8 12, Davion Highsmith 2 0-2 4, Gavin Taylor 1 1-2 3, Joe Pasternak 1 0-0 2, Todd McIntyre 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 27 17-30 76
Paw Paw 13 31 48 66
Dowagiac 23 45 56 76
3-point baskets: Paw Paw 9 (Gill 4, Eubank 2, Cerven 2, Vavra), Dowagiac 5 (Highsmith 2, Clark 2, Solloway). Total fouls (fouled out): Paw Paw 21 (Leak), Dowagiac 20 (none). Shooting: Paw Paw 22-of-56 for 39-percent, Dowagiac 27-of-66 for 41-percent. Rebounding: Paw Paw 32 (Gill 16), Dowagiac 40 (Charles 11). Turnovers: Paw Paw 17, Dowagiac 16. Varsity records: Paw Paw 12-7, 8-7 Wolverine; Dowagiac 14-5, 12-3 Wolverine