By DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – A furious rally in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough to lift the Whiteford Bobcats past the state-ranked and undefeated Summerfield Bulldogs, but it was enough to give the Bobcats some momentum heading into its second half of the season stretch run.
The Bulldogs beat Whiteford 58-46 Friday, the first time Summerfield has beaten Whiteford since Feb. 27, 2014. But the Bobcats were able to cut a 24-point lead to just 11 in the fourth quarter and force the Bulldogs to bring three starters back into the game.
“We don’t have any quit on this team,” Whiteford coach Nick Abalos said. “I’m proud of the guys. We are improving and looking forward to the second half of the season.”
Summerfield jumped out to an early lead against Whiteford, scoring the first two baskets of the game on shots by Brendan Dafoe and Bryce Smith. Whiteford’s Hunter Lake pulled the Bobcats within 4-3 but the Bulldogs pulled away for a 16-5 first quarter lead, mainly because the Bobcats were forced into eight turnovers on its first 10 possessions.
The second quarter was more of the same. Back-to-back buckets by Dafoe made it 20-5. Breeding made it 28-11 and Clark’s bucket at the end of the half made it 34-13.
A 6-0 run early in the third quarter – buckets by Clark, Breeding and Dafoe – gave the visitors its largest lead of the game, 42-18, before Whiteford began its climb back into the game.
Nathan Bauman made two field goals before the end of the third quarter as the Buckets cut the lead to 21 to start the final eight minutes. The lead was 51-27 after a Dafoe three-point play with six minutes remaining in the game when the Bobcats caught fire.
A 12-0 run that included a 3-pointer by Logan Murphy and a Murphy free throw with 3:09 left in the fourth forced Raymond to put three starters back into the game. The Bobcats got as close as 11.
“We still have to get better in the second half of understanding how to play a game up 20,” Bulldog coach David Raymond said. “That showed in the second half. We’ll get better at that. I told the guys you won the game by getting the lead in the first half. We’ll continue to work on handling different situations.”
Only five Summerfield players scored, but they spread it around nicely.
Dafoe finished with 17 points, Breeding 16, Clark a season-high 13 and Bryce Smith 8. The Bulldogs didn’t hit a 3-pointer.
For Whiteford, leading scorer Lake was limited on his shot attempts and finished with 10 points.
“Our game plan was to know where Hunter Lake was at all times,” Raymond said. “We’ve seen for countless years him causing all sorts of problems. We really put an emphasis on that. I don’t know what we held him to in the first half, but I thought we got him out of rhythm a little bit and did a nice job defensively.”
Bauman had an outstanding game for Whiteford, also finishing with 10 – seven in the fourth quarter.
Summerfield 58, Whiteford 46
SUMMERFIELD 16 18 12 12 – 58
WHITEFORD 5 8 12 21 – 46
Dafoe 8 1-1 17, Clark 5 3-6 13, Keller 2 0-0 4, Breeding 8 0-0 16, Smith 3 2-4 8. Totals 26 6-11 58.
Clark-Gilmore 1 0-0 2, Bauman 3 3-6 10, Lake 4 0-0 10, Murph 2 1-2 6, Bertz 1 3-4 5, Badenhop 3 0-0 7, Tesznar 3 0-0 6. Totals 17 7-12 46. Three-point field goals: Lake 2, Bauman, Murphy, Badenhop.