Dowagiac’s Dontel Highsmith goes in for two of his 21 points Monday night in the Class B District opener against Parchment. The Chieftains defeated the Panthers 63-45. (Daily News Photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

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Dowagiac holds off Panthers

Published 12:04am Tuesday, March 6, 2012

COLOMA — Better defense Monday against Parchment’s Brady Vanderweele in the second half helped the Dowagiac boys basketball team pull away and post a 63-45 win in Class B opening round district tournament action.

The defending district champion Chieftains (16-5) advance to play South Haven (12-8) in semifinal action Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Coloma High School.

Vanderweele, who came into the game averaging 27 points a game, finished with 25 points with 17 of those points coming in the first half as the Panthers trailed only 30-24 at halftime. Vanderweele hit two 3-pointers in the final 1:00 with his 3 as time expired cutting Dowagiac’s lead to six points at halftime. Vanderweele didn’t score his first points in the second half until 6:15 left in the game.

“In the first half, we kind of let him (Vanderweele) get away,” said Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt. “We tried various things defensively. We played man and some trapping zones in full and halfcourt. He was able to get some open looks. In the second half, it was our goal to completely take him out of the game. We just put a man in his face and made the rest of the team attempt to beat us. It seemed to work for us.”

After Parchment (5-15) pulled within 30-26 with 7:32 left in the third quarter, Dowagiac went on a 19-4 run to take a 49-30 lead with 7:37 left in the third quarter. The Chieftains first four points in the run came from D.J. Hunt, who finished with 14 points. It was the first game this season for Hunt, who missed time because of a broken leg suffered during football season.

“He was good for his first game out after being out for four and a half months,” said Danum Hunt, D.J.’s father. “He’s been practicing solidly for about a month now. I wanted to hold him out until tournament time. He came out and got his feet wet tonight and got some good looks. Not a lot of shots went down for him in the first half, but he kind of pulled it together and did a little better in the second half. I think he’s going to be huge for us throughout the tournament.”

Dontel Highsmith scored 21 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three steals for the Chieftains. His six points in the first quarter helped Dowagiac jump out to a 20-6 lead after one quarter. Highsmith is now 16 points away from becoming the school’s all-time career scoring leader. Edgar Wilson is the school’s all-time leader currently with 1,371 points.

“Sometimes, he’s working on allowing his teammates to get more involved instead of asserting himself when he needs to,” Danum Hunt said about Highsmith’s play. “I tell him not to allow that to diminish his overall play.”

The Chieftains finished with a 41-32 edge in rebounding with Gavin Taylor coming off the bench to pull down 13 rebounds to go with his six points.

“Taylor was huge for us on the boards,” Danum Hunt said. “That helped us get an edge, outlet the ball and run a little more. For us to stay alive in the tournament we’re going to have to be dominant on the boards.”

During the regular season, Dowagiac beat South Haven twice (65-62 and 85-77). The Chieftain leader is looking for better play from his team than what he saw on Monday.

“I think we were a little sluggish tonight,” Danum Hunt said. “We didn’t play our best basketball. Hopefully, we got the bad gave over with and we’ll be ready on Wednesday.

“South Haven is pretty tough. They’re athletic and match up well with us in that area. We won the first game against them on a buzzer-beater. In the second game we were able to pull out a win. It’s hard to beat a team three times in one season. I think Wednesday night’s game will be a barn-burner. We’re coming out to get the win.”


Brady Vanderweele 10 1-2 25, Jalen Boyd 5 1-2 11, Seth Dexter 1 0-0 2, Brent Dziewicki 0 0-0 0, Hartlee Lucas 3 0-2 6, Austin Cox 0 0-0 0, Brandon Linstead 0 1-2 1, Mitch Wilkey 0 0-0 0, Brett Blacken 0 0-0 0, Kendall Griffin 0 0-0 0, Sam Nordquist 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19 3-8 45


Dontel Highsmith 9 2-3 21, D.J. Hunt 5 4-4 14, Eric Charles 2 0-0 4, Tyler Clark 2 0-0 4, Brendon Murray 2 0-0 5, Kyle Solloway 0 0-0 0, Gavin Taylor 3 0-2 6, Davion Highsmith 1 0-0 2, Craig Zebell 3 0-0 7, Matt Smith 0 0-0 0, Joey Pasternak 0 0-0 0, Todd McIntyre 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 27 6-9 63

Parchment 6 24 30 45

Dowagiac 20 30 47 63

3-point goals: Parchment 4 (Vanderweele 4), Dowagiac 3 (Highsmith, Murray, Zebell). Total fouls (fouled out): Parchment 9 (none), Dowagiac 11 (none). Shooting: Parchment 19-of-59 for 32 percent, Dowagiac 27-of-64 for 42 percent. Rebounding: Parchment 32 (Vanderweele 8), Dowagiac 41 (Taylor 13). Turnovers: Parchment 13, Dowagiac 12

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