Both teams are called the Wildcats, and the game was a close one as they tussled for the win. Hazen came out ahead by three points when Twin Valley could not tie the game in the final seconds of the game, winning 56-53.
In the first quarter, Twin Valley’s Dylan Howe scored the first two baskets for his team. “He had a great game, and starting out the game that way was huge,” said Twin Valley coach Chris Brown. Twin Valley went into the second quarter with a 19-13 lead.
Twin Valley also outscored Hazen in the second quarter, 14 to 12. “Brett (Swanson) scored 16 points in the first half,” said Brown. At halftime Twin Valley led 33-25.
But things started breaking Hazen’s way. “Their point guard did a really good job of covering Brett in the second half,” said Brown. Hazen outscored Twin Valley by five points in the third quarter, and going into the fourth quarter Twin Valley’s lead had shrunk from a high of 11 to three, 45-42.
In the fourth, Hazen managed to grab a slim lead. According to Brown, Howe prevented Hazen from widening the lead even further in the fourth quarter. “He had two tremendous blocked shots. He hustled back and stopped their player from scoring,” Brown said.
Skyler Boyd also made an important play late in the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, and Ethan Fox put in a layup. But by the final seconds of the game, Hazen had outscored Twin Valley 14-8 in the quarter. Swanson, who had been held to four points in the entire second half, missed a three-pointer that could have tied the game at the buzzer.
It was the fourth game in which Swanson scored 20 points or more. Fifteen of Swanson’s points were from three-pointers. Howe scored nine points, as did Boyd and Fox. Logan Park scored six. Swanson and Boyd both snagged seven rebounds, Fox five, and Howe and Park each grabbed three.
Brown praised Fox’s contributions and said he was pleased that he would have this game to remember. “He scored some tremendous and important baskets. This was really a high note for him to go out.”
Brown also praised his entire team, including the six players who never got off the bench for the game against Hazen.
“Besides the first team, we also played Copper Pell for about six or eight minutes. The players on the bench were really rooting for the first team.”
Brown said that he was expecting to have seven players return as seniors next year. “Hopefully we can really build on what we did this year, with all those seniors,” he said.
Hazen, which knocked Twin Valley out of the tournament for the second straight year, fell to the first-seed Williamstown Blue Devils, 66-54, in the championship game on Saturday.