Dowagiac avoids upset bidPublished 7:13pm Saturday, February 23, 2013
Danum Hunt has coached several of his current Dowagiac boys basketball players since they were in the fifth grade.
But once Friday’s Senior Night game started against Berrien Springs, Hunt barely recognized any of them.
After knocking down nearly two dozen 3-point baskets and eclipsing the 100-point mark in a lopsided win earlier this season at Berrien Springs, the state’s No. 3-ranked Class B team was tested by the Shamrocks throughout the contest Friday night and escaped with a 70-64 Wolverine Conference victory.
Although happy about the win, Hunt was mystified by the Chieftains’ performance.
“I don’t know where my team was, but some guys did show up to play tonight. It was not my team,” Hunt said. “It was very flat, it was very sloppy, they did not execute well, did not play defense well, did not rebound well and did not shoot well. All around, it was a bad game.
“By the same token, I’ll say this: If we were going to have a bad game, tonight was the night to have it to get it out of our system. Every game that we play from this point on counts for something. Next Thursday we play for a conference championship and after that we want to make a state title run.”
The game featured seven ties and six lead-changes. Dowagiac finally assumed a lead it would not relinquish on a basket by senior Dontel Highsmith about three minutes into the third quarter, but the hosts were unable to put away the pesky Shamrocks.
Berrien Springs junior John Williams picked up his fourth foul with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter, taking with him to the Shamrocks’ bench 17 points and 11 rebounds to that point in the game.
Without their 6-foot-6 standout, the Shamrocks surrendered three baskets from close-range by junior Davion Highsmith and the Chieftains led, 56-46, heading into the final eight minutes.
Williams returned to the Berrien Springs lineup to begin the fourth quarter and fouled out less than a minute later, but the Shamrocks refused the roll over.
A 9-2 scoring run cut Dowagiac’s lead to 62-58, and when Dontel Highsmith fouled out of the game with 1:29 remaining, the Chieftains led, 65-59.
But a turnover and three straight missed shots by the Shamrocks enabled Dowagiac (18-1) to eventually find its way the free throw line, where the Chieftains meshed five pivotal charity chances over the game’s final 42 seconds.
“A win is a win, and we’ll take the win, especially for the seniors,” Hunt said. “I’ve been with them most of their lives, and then to see the last night that they will play in front of the home crowd…it was just very emotional, especially with my son (D.J. Hunt) being a part of that group.
“It was an emotional night, and I’m sure the guys had some emotions they were dealing with, but I am glad we were able to come together enough and pull out the victory.”
“We got down 10 and we had to go with Williams to start the fourth quarter; we needed the offense,” Berrien Springs coach Mark Haase said. “He picked up his fifth foul on a questionable call and we lose (a player who averages) 17 points and 9 rebounds.
“Our guys really competed well, and the guys who had to fill in at the end didn’t exactly have a lot of crunch time minutes. They responded well, we just didn’t make shots. If we make anything around the rim, we might have been real happy in the lockerroom.”
Dontel Highsmith led all scorers with 29 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and collected five assists. Davion Highsmith chipped in with 13 points, while junior Kyle Solloway and senior Tyler Clark added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Dowagiac shot 44.6 percent from the field (25 of 56), but was outrebounded by a 53-33 margin and turned the ball over 16 times.
Nick Little scored a team-high 21 points for Berrien Springs, while Williams added 20 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. The Shamrocks shot 33.3 percent afield (22 of 66).
“Berrien played very well tonight,” Hunt said. “We had to make an adjustment and go to some half-court stuff because there were some guys in foul trouble. When we went up by 10, I wanted to change the rhythm and see if I could knock them off-balance, but they hung in there and chipped away at the lead, a bit.”
BERRIEN SPRINGS 64
Nick Little 21, Michael Beckson 2, Norton Gumbo 6, Geoffrey Mfune 4, John Williams 20, Temi Idowu 4, Everrett Shembarger 3, Anthony Broyles 4. TOTALS: 22 14-19 64
Dontel Highsmith 29, Kyle Solloway 11, Joey Pasternak 2, D.J. Hunt 3, Tyler Clark 10, Davion Highsmith 13, Bryce Dodd 2, Todd McIntyre 0. TOTALS: 25 15-22 70
Berrien Springs 10 30 46 64
Dowagiac 16 30 56 70
3-point field goals: Berrien Springs 6 (Little 4, Gumbo, Shembarger), Dowagiac 5 (Do. Highsmith, Clark, Da. Highsmith, Solloway 2). Team fouls (fouled out): Berrien Springs 18 (Gumbo, Williams), Dowagiac 15 (Do. Highsmith). Technical fouls: None. Rebounds: Berrien Springs 53, Dowagiac 33. Turnovers: Berrien Springs 23, Dowagiac 16. Dowagiac record: 18-1