Dowagiac wins third straight
NILES — The streaks continued for the Dowagiac and Niles varsity basketball teams.
Visiting Dowagiac extended its winning streak to three games with a 59-48 victory over the Vikings, who dropped their fourth consecutive contest.
The Chieftains (6-3) were able to use their athleticism and physical style of play to dominate Niles (3-5) inside, especially in the final 16 minutes of the non-conference boys basketball game.
Dowagiac pours in 21 points in the first quarter and led 31-22 at halftime after both teams scored 10 points in the second quarter.
Niles was able to keep the game close throughout, but never seemed to be able to get that key basket to get the lead back under double digits.
The Chieftains seemed to maintain a 10- to 13-point lead throughout the contest and had an answer for the Vikings every time they made a run.
“We had to be stronger with the ball offensively,” Niles coach Todd Pawielski said. “It was a very physical game. Dowagiac did a great job of pressing and trapping us all over the floor. We did not respond to the physical nature of the game.”
Pawielski, who was very vocal with his team during a first-half time out, said that the defensive effort must improve before Niles will snap its current losing streak.
“Right now, defensively, we are very selfish,” he said. “We refuse to leave our own man to stop the ball. There are moments of good things from our kids and I am glad we kept playing. In the third quarter, there it could have gotten out of hand.”
Dowagiac’s lead reached 20 points in the third quarter before the Vikings cut it back down to 13 points, where it seemed to stay the remainder of the contest.
A comeback effort by Niles was hindered by the loss of sophomore Nate Goins, who suffered a broken wrist when crashing to the floor in the fourth quarter.
Goins had a team-high 13 points when he was injured.
Pawielski said that his team is going to have to get tougher and stronger in order to compete with the teams remaining on their schedule and in the state tournament.
“We need to be smarter with the ball and defensively we need to be willing to do our job when we lose contain,” he said.
Dowagiac forced Niles into 29 turnovers, which led to easy baskets.
The Chieftains also turned the ball over, but the Vikings were unable to take advantage of most of them.
“We had a better effort tonight,” Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt said. “We had some highs and lows. There were some bright spots where we looked really good, and then there were other times where we looked stagnant. We turn the ball over unforced and we need to work on that.”
Hunt said that he was pleased with the effort overall.
“The intensity and energy was there,” he said. “The guys worked together and we were able to get the W.”
Dowagiac also had a balanced scoring attack, led by Caleb Murphy’s 15 points. The Chieftains also got 14 points each from Shaquan Stanback and Jamin Hunt, who returned to the lineup after missing one game with illness and a sore foot.
Besides Goins’ scoring, the Vikings got 11 points from Austin Brookins, along with 10 points and 10 rebounds from Robert Brown.
Niles will host rival Lakeshore in a SMAC West contest at approximately 7 p.m. Friday.
Dowagiac heads back into Wolverine Conference action after playing its final non-conference game of the year.
The Chieftains host Three Rivers Friday.
“We wanted to take tonight’s game and build some momentum,” Hunt said. “Hopefully this gives us that momentum moving forward because we want to stay on top of the conference. We will go back and work hard. A conference championship is our focus and goal.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.