BOWLING GREEN — When Scott found itself facing an early deficit, the Bulldogs didn’t panic.
In fact, Scott coach Chris Dames believes his team gathers fuel when it finds itself on the edge in the opening moments of a game.
But Wednesday’s game wasn’t just another game, and the Bulldogs collected themselves and went on to defeat Otsego 67-40 in a win-or-go-home situation in a Division II boys basketball district semifinal at the Stroh Center.
Scott (13-9) will face Sandusky Perkins (20-5), a 60-51 winner over Bowling Green, in the division championship game at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Stroh Center.
After spotting Otsego a 7-2 lead in the game’s first four minutes, Scott capitalized on turnovers and transition to create scoring chances en route to a 15-7 lead.
“I wish there was a strategy that I could get our guys to come out, get punched in the mouth early right away, because we always respond well,” Dames said. “When we come out early, we tend to go into cruise control and think that we can kind of coast a little.
“It took us a little bit. We knew they were going to stack the paint but we had to hit some medium-range jump shots. The first couple possessions, we didn’t execute.”
Scott continued its torrid scoring pace into the second, when it stretched its lead to 19 points (32-13) and led 33-21 at halftime despite going without a successful shot from the floor in the final 3:35 of the half.
“To maintain the lead, our coach told us to come out and be aggressive,” said Chris Harris, who led Scott with 28 points. “He told us to come out and be very aggressive, actually, because going into halftime, that’s when they’ll score most of their points. So he told us to come out and be aggressive, defensively, because it starts on defense first.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Perkins win ends season for BGHS
PHOTO GALLERY: Scott defeats Otsego 67-40
Otsego clipped Scott’s lead to nine points (33-24) on Jalen Myers’ shot 1:40 into the second half, then to eight at 37-29 but it was the closest the Knights (20-5) came to threatening Scott’s lead. The Bulldogs maintained at least a double-digit lead through most of the second half, opening it up to as many as 27 in the fourth quarter.
“We had a hard time with their athleticism, plain and simple,” Otsego coach Jim Bostdorff said. “In practice, we put guys on the floor to simulate how they were going to be everywhere, and that’s just not the same when we got out on the floor. Their quickness and the way they ran their press really disrupted us all night. Ultimately, we were just really sloppy with the basketball.”
Bryson Collins added 18 points for the Bulldogs, while A.C. Limes led the Knights with 13.
In the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, Bowling Green couldn’t stop the bleeding with a hastily called timeout in the midst of an 18-3 fourth-quarter run by Perkins, and Bowling Green withered in a 60-51 loss.
In a game in which any advantage seemed to swing between Bowling Green and Perkins, the Bobcats (14-11) held a three-point lead with a minute left in the third before Nic Williams cut the lead to 42-41 with four seconds left.
Then, the Pirates got an immediate spark from Brandon Smith, who hit a 3-pointer to give Perkins its first lead since the start of the third, part of its fourth-quarter run.
“If you’ve looked at when we’ve lost the last couple years and how we’ve lost, teams that drive it at us have success,” Bowling Green coach Von Graffin said. “Different individuals come at us and get us in switch situations and have success. We’ve tried to address it and deal with it and it hasn’t happened.
“[Perkins] did a good job of coming at us and coming at us and coming at us. They didn’t run a whole lot of set plays.”
LaMonta Stone’s shot with less than 20 seconds left in the first quarter gave the Bobcats an 18-16 lead going into the second, and Williams, who led all scorers with 25 points, hit a 3-pointer with 1:13 left in the half cut Bowling Green’s lead to 28-27 at halftime.
“We tried to tell ourselves, ‘stop making this such a close game,’ ” said Vitto Brown, who led Bowling Green with 18 points. “Broaden this lead out a bit. But they kept sticking around. We’d make one mistake on offense and they’d make us pay on defense.”
Williams cut the Bobcats’ lead to 42-41 with four seconds left in the third quarter.
“We came out wanting to play defense in the fourth quarter, and we knew Vitto Brown was going to try to get his shots and get what he wanted to try and get them back in the game,” Williams said. “We tried to play good defense, and we got defense from our offense.”
By the time Bowling Green called the fourth-quarter timeout — with 4:02 left in the game — Perkins had built a 56-45 lead.
“They did a good job of pushing us out, even though we’re capable of shooting those threes,” said Brown, whose team only made four of 16 3-pointers. “We kind of wanted to attack them more and get more easy looks at the rim and maybe get to the foul line a little more. They had success doing that against us, and we weren’t able to do that.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.