Youthful Chieftains ready for Bulldogs

Published 4:07 pm Monday, December 16, 2013

Dowagiac’s Keoante Blackamore (left) battles with Coloma’s Jason Walter for rebounding position in the Chieftains season opener Friday night. Dowagiac will host Vicksburg tonight. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Dowagiac’s Keoante Blackamore (left) battles with Coloma’s Jason Walter for rebounding position in the Chieftains season opener Friday night. Dowagiac will host Vicksburg tonight. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

The Dowagiac boys basketball team opened a few eyes with their come-from-behind 60-55 win over Coloma Friday night.

The surprise was how well the team played considering it didn’t dress a single player who had played many meaningful minutes at the varsity level. The closest the Chieftains came was Matt Smith, who was on the varsity roster two years ago as a freshman, but played on the JV last season, and Trace Hatcher.

Despite its youth and inexperience, Dowagiac came together as a team throughout the game and in the second half was able to turn up the pressure on the Comets and pull out the victory.

The Chieftains hope to make it two straight when they host winless Vicksburg Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs are 0-2 having lost to Schoolcraft 46-45 and to Paw Paw 80-75 in a Wolverine Conference East Division contest.

In their loss to Paw Paw, Solomon Barwegan scored 26 points for the Bulldogs, who also got 11 points from Mitchell VanSchoick and 10 points from Conner Henderson.

Dowagiac was led in its season open by Brandon Winchester-Jones. The Chieftain point guard scored 21 points. Dowagiac also got 12 points each from Daquan Brooks and Leroy Lewis.

Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt called his sophomore class a special group and expects big things out of them as the season rolls on.

“I told them that varsity basketball is a different experience, but the game is the same,” he said. “Go out and play the same way you did at the JV level. The guys will be a little quicker and a little stronger, but if you play the same game that you played, you will be perfectly fine.

“After the game I just told them ‘welcome to varsity basketball.’ From this point on they will be ready to go.”

Dowagiac may get a bit more experience into the line-up against Vicksburg as Hunt was hopeful to get one or more of his returning letterwinners — Davion Highsmith, Kyle Solloway and Bryce Dodd — back. Zach Williams remains doubtful with an ankle injury.

The game is slated to begin at 7:15 p.m.


Dowagiac at Vicksburg

The Chieftain girls basketball team will hit the road in search of their second victory of the season.

Dowagiac did not play well in the second and third quarters against Coloma and it cost them a shot at victory Friday night.

The Chieftains led 7-3 after the opening quarter, but ended up trailing the Comets 21-14 heading into the final eight minutes. Dowagiac was outscored 13-0 in the pivotal second quarter.

Dowagiac made a late rally and got within striking distance, but couldn’t knock down the big shot when it needed it or get a defensive stop on Coloma’s Jenna Faultersack, who scored a game-high 17 points for the Comets.

The Chieftains were playing their first game without leading scorer Ciera Smith, who suffered a knee injury in last Tuesday’s game against Niles.

According to coach Floyd Foston, Smith could be back in a couple of weeks.

He was frustrated that his team continues to struggle with fundamental basketball. He vowed changes for Tuesday night’s contest on the road at Vicksburg.

“We’re just not focused enough,” Foston said. “We don’t want it bad enough. I want it worst than they do. I can give them the Xs and Os, but they have to make it happen out there. That’s the bottom line.

“The girls don’t know the plays on offense and defense. You can’t make stuff happen if you can’t execute on either end of the floor. That’s where we are at right now.”

The Bulldogs are 1-1 after beating Schoolcraft and losing to Paw Paw in their Wolverine Conference East Division opener.

In the loss to the Redskins Thursday night, Jessica Beebe had 16 points for Vicksburg, while Kayli Bowen added 11.

The game is set to begin at 7:15 p.m.