Fourth quarter comeback sends Paw Paw into District Final game

By: 
Butch Hindenach, pawtwice@bloomingdalecom.net

   VICKSBURG - The Redskins’ tournament trail continued last Friday with a hard-fought 76-73 victory over the host Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs were eager to avenge an earlier defeat by Paw Paw, and battled all night, but coming up just short. 
   The ’Dogs started fast, building a quick 9-3 lead, until Redskin Nathan Smetana’s basket created a tie.  The hosts started the second period quickly also, until back-to-back two- and three- pointers by Luke Toliver cut the lead to one.  Karsen Barnhart’s rebound and put-back gave Paw Paw its first lead, and the game stayed close until the break. The Bulldogs were making a living penetrating to the hoop against the Reds’ defense and led by three when the teams left the floor.
   Early in the third stanza, Vicksburg began to hit from long distance when Redskin coach Rick Mitchell went to a zone defense to combat the easy scores inside, and held a 53-45 margin with just over three left in the quarter. Vicksburg continued to stay ahead with some very accurate free throw shooting that ended at 82 percent (23/28). Barnhart’s buzzer-beating shot cut the Vicksburg lead to 56-50 going into the final segment. 
   A fourth period Redskin rally began with a pair of Toliver charity throws. Six points by Trey Brennan led a 10-0 run that put the ’Skins up, 61-59. After that, it continued to be the Luke-and-Trey show, as they demonstrated pinpoint free throw shooting as the game wound down.
   Redskin senior Will Downard came up with a key defensive play, taking a charge with his team in front by three with 27 seconds left to play.  Six more Redskin free throws, four by Toliver and two again by Brennan, kept the ’Dogs leashed until the final horn sounded. 
   It was a case of the two leading scorers for the Redskins stepping up at the right time as Toliver and Brennan together scored 23 of their team’s 26 final quarter total, including 14 of 14 from the charity stripe.
   Toliver was the game-high scorer with 28, Brennan added 21, Aidan Luma, nine, and Smetana, six. Smetana and Toliver also had 10 boards apiece. Brennan pulled down eight errant shot attempts, and was his usual helpful self with seven assists. Barnhart contributed five points and five rebounds.

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