Chieftains hold off ColtsPublished 11:38pm Thursday, March 1, 2012
It may have been an uninspired effort Thursday night by Dowagiac in its regular season finale, but the Chieftain boys basketball team held on for a 57-54 win over visiting Comstock.
Dowagiac came out and played without much energy, but managed to turn up the intensity at the beginning of the fourth quarter to open up a nine-point advantage and then hit its free throws down the stretch.
The win will send Dowagiac into the post season with a 15-5 overall record and a second place finish in the Wolverine Conference after posting a 13-3 mark.
The game also will serve as a teaching point for Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt.
“That’s all we talked about after the game in the locker room,” he said. “We talked about our play tonight. If this is our performance and this is the level we are going to perform at, we are going to have a short run this year in the tournament.”
Leading 39-36 heading into the fourth quarter, the Chieftains scored the first six points to open up a 45-36 advantage less than two minutes into the final stanza.
But the Colts (8-12, 5-11 Wolverine) would not be denied.
Comstock came storming back, cutting the lead to 53-52 with 2:25 remaining in the contest on a basket by Jalen Lamar.
Just over a minute later, Shaquan Jones hit one of two free throws to give the Colts a 54-53 lead with 1:11 showing on the clock.
Dowagiac’s Dontel Highsmith hit both free throws with 18.2 seconds remaining in the contest and then Gavin Taylor after rebounding a missed Comstock shot, hit two free throws with 4.4 seconds left to seal the victory.
“That was ugly,” Hunt said. “It’s a win, but it was ugly. For some reason tonight we played down to the level of our competition. Whenever we do that we find ourselves in a close game and possibly in trouble. We did not come out and perform well tonight at all.
“I am kind of concerned now because that’s the last game we play going into the tournament. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and Monday.”
Hunt did find one bright spot and that was the free throw shooting in the clutch.
“That’s been a big concern of ours all year,” he said. “We haven’t shot the ball well from the free throw line well as a team all year. We were able to get a few to close the game out tonight. So maybe that’s the upside to tonight. We can now hit free throws when it counts to pull out victories.”
Comstock grabbed a 12-7 lead after one quarter of play, but were unable to hold on to the five-point advantage as Dowagiac outscored it 18-13 in the second half to tie the score at 25-25.
The Chieftains held 32-29 advantage in the second half to earn the victory.
Highsmith finished with a game-high 21 points, while Taylor finished with 12 points.
“Gavin was big for us tonight,” Hunt said. “He came down and gave us some buckets on the inside. They (Comstock) were kind of giving us the post for some reason. They were covering us up pretty much everywhere else and taking away the penetration lanes. He was able to come in and make some nice moves in the post. That was huge for us because that kind of gave us a lift and helped us build a lead for a short time.”
Lamar led the Colts with 18 points. Jones and Sawyer Heffner finished with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Dowagiac will open up defense of its Class B District championship Monday night as it takes on Parchment at Coloma High School. The opening game of the tournament is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
Aaron Gipson 0 0-0 0; Jalen Lamar 6 4-4 18; Shaquan Jones 6 0-1 12; Sawyer Heffner 5 0-0 11; Nick Keene 0 2-2 2; Joel Gipson 2 0-0 4; Colin Perez 0 2-4 2; Ryan Gatti 0 0-0 0; Bobby Brinkert 1 2-2 5. TOTALS: 20 10-13 54
Dontel Highsmith 7 7-7 21; Davion Highsmith 2 2-2 7; Craig Zebell 3 0-0 6; Kyle Solloway 1 0-0 2; Joey Pasternak 0 0-0 0; Gavin Taylor 3 6-7 12; Brendon Murray 1 2-4 4; Tyler Clark 2 0-1 5; Eric Charles 0 0-1 0. TOTALS: 19 17-22 57
Comstock 12 25 36 54
Dowagiac 7 25 39 57
3-point baskets: Comstock 4 (Lamar 2, Heffner, Brinkert), Dowagiac 2 (Da. Highsmith, Clark). Total fouls (fouled out): Comstock 17 (Lamar), Dowagiac 15 (none). Varsity records: Comstock 8-11, 5-11 Wolverine; Dowagiac 15-5, 13-3 Wolverine