Chieftains pull out 61-59 win over Niles in overtime

Published 7:41 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dowagiac’s Brandon Winchester-Jones (12) goes to the basket against Niles’ Gavin Rasler (23) Tuesday night. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Dowagiac’s Brandon Winchester-Jones (12) goes to the basket against Niles’ Gavin Rasler (23) Tuesday night. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

The undefeated Dowagiac basketball team continues to live on the edge.

Tuesday night, despite a career night from Niles senior Gavin Rasler, the Chieftains (6-0) found a way to win in a 61-59 overtime thriller.

Rasler scored a game-high 39 points as he attacked the basket time and time again.

His pull-up jumper at the end of regulation tied the game at 51 and forced the overtime period.

In the extra session, another senior, Dowagiac’s Brandon Winchester-Jones came up with the biggest shot of the night to lift the Chieftains to the victory.

After Rasler had put the Vikings (1-3) on top 59-57 with 40 seconds left in overtime, Winchester-Jones came down the floor and from the top of the key drilled a 3-pointer to give Dowagiac the victory.

Rasler would get one last shot at giving Niles its second win of the season, but his last-second heave, but it would be short. Alex Harpenau rebounded the shot attempt and tried to get the ball in the basket, but could not as time expired.

“Rasler had an awesome game,” Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt said. “He really stepped up. I had to put two and sometimes three guys on him just to slow him down a little bit. He had an incredible night. But Brandon showed up big in the overtime. That last sequence, we were going to try and get a dump down and then get the ball to the middle for an easy layin. I guess Brandon was feeling it at the time. I’m glad he made it.”

Niles coach Todd Pawielski was also impressed with Rasler’s performance, but has always know he had that capability.

“Gavin has always had this type of performance in him,” Pawielski said. “He’s a good shooter and a skilled guy. Tonight he did a nice job of attacking the rim.”

Dowagiac raced out to a 15-4 lead in the opening quarter only to have Niles come back to make it 15-8 heading into the second quarter.

The Chieftains opened up a lead midway through the second quarter, but the Vikings stormed back again, this time cutting the lead to 27-23 at the intermission.

The third quarter went back and fourth and both teams struggled to get the ball in the basket.

Dowagiac and Niles were deadlocked at 36-36 heading into the final eight minutes of play.

“We have to learn to be consistent,” Hunt said. “That’s our downfall. We started off the game pretty good, very intense and got them on the run. Then we let up and our intensity left. Three of our six games have been like this, and we’re not going to continue to win if we don’t become consistent with what we do.”

Winchester-Jones finished with 19 points to lead the Chieftains, who also got 16 points from Keoante Blackamore and 11 points from Leroy Lewis.

The Vikings also got eight points from Derek Brown.

Dowagiac forced Niles into 26 turnovers, including 10 in the opening quarter.

Pawielski said his team needs to find a way to protect the basketball.

“We had just enough kind of goofy, unforced turnovers that came back to bite us,” Pawielski said. “Dowagiac did a great job of turning us over early. Our decision making needs a little improvement.”



At Niles


Leroy Lewis 4 2-5 11, DeYonte Sullivan 2 1-2 5, Keoante Blackamore 6 4-4 16, Harry Reed 2 0-0 4, Brandon Winchester-Jones 5 5-8 19, Jamin Hunt 0 0-0 0, Adrien Bucha-Moore 2 0-0 4, Marcus Winchester-Jones 1 0-0 2, Mack Charles 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22 12-19 61.


Jacob Hamm 2 0-0 4, Alex Harpenau 1 0-0 2, Gavin Rasler 18 1-3 39, Chris Brown 2 0-0 4, Derek Brown 2 4-4 8, Donovan Jennings 0 0-0 0, Devin Kuemin 0 0-0 0, Bryce Lake 1 0-1 2, Tyler Phillips 0 0-0 0, Dawson Clemens 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 26 5-8 59.


Dowagiac        15       27       36       51       61

Niles                8          23       36       51       59

3-point baskets: Dowagiac 5 (B. Winchester-Jones 4, Lewis 1), Niles 2 (Rasler 2). Total fouls: Dowagiac 11, Niles 18. J.V. score: Niles 45, Dowagiac 36. Varsity records: Dowagiac 6-0, Niles 1-3.