Energized by playing in front of their home fans for the first time in the 2018-19 campaign, the Dolores boys basketball team rallied from a first-half deficit to capture a hard-fought 67-64 victory over visiting Creede.
Timely baskets down the stretch helped the Bears (3-2) swing the momentum in their favor before their defense shut down the Miners late in the contest.
Creede (2-4) jumped out early on the Bears, capitalizing on cold Dolores shooting to build a 17-9 lead after the opening quarter. Miners guards Casper Feedle and Fisher Leggitt showed their range, as the visitors continued to knock down perimeter shots, including a Feedle three-pointer that gave Creede its largest lead of the contest, 30-21, late in the first half.
However, the Bears responded in kind, as Bears sophomore Hayden Tallmadge and senior Thaddeus Lee drained back-to-back triples to cut the halftime margin to five, 32-27.
From there, senior Tristen Swagerty took over. Saddled with foul trouble for much of the contest, Swagerty went off, scoring 10 of the Bears first 13 points in the second half, including a personal 8-0 run that gave the Bears a 38-35 lead.
Creede fought back, however, as the Miners turned Bears turnovers into points to reclaim the lead late in the third quarter, taking a two-point edge into the fourth.
With the game poised for a fantastic finish, the Bears leaned on Swagerty again, but this time, it was sophomore William Swagerty to provide the heroics. Down three with five minutes to go, Swagerty drilled his second three-pointer of the quarter from the right wing to tie up the game. Moments later, it was another Swagerty three that put the Bears up for good, 59-58.
Back-to-back buckets by Tristen Swagerty and classmate Dakota Smith gave the Bears some breathing room, before the Dolores defense clamped down to secure the victory.
Dolores head coach Larry Schwartz praised his team for elevating their play to pull out the win. “That’s the way our games have been going this year,” said Schwartz, “It could have gone either way, but our kids put in a gutty effort.”
Tristen Swagerty finished with 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, while Smith made a strong return from injury to tally 14 points of his own. William Swagerty scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarter, while senior Neil Farias provided seven points, all coming in the second half.
Feedle and Leggitt each finished with 15 for Creede. Some of the big shots down the stretch came as a product of crisp perimeter passing.
“We moved the ball well tonight,” said Schwartz, “our guys showed more patience than in any of our other games this year.”
The Bears travel to Collbran to take on Plateau Valley on Saturday, December 22 in their final contest before the holiday break.