Paw Paw edged Wolverine Conference rival Vicksburg 59-52 in overtime at Monday’s district 34 opening game from Three Rivers. It’s the third consecutive season that Paw Paw has ended Vicksburg’s campaign in the district round.
The Bulldogs opened with the lead and built it to six points early in the first quarter, before settling on a 12-11 advantage at the end of the frame. Paw Paw went ahead off a 7-0 run to begin the second. They extended the lead to as many as 11 and ended up with a 29-20 halftime lead. Top scorer Luke Toliver had 18 points in the first half.
Vicksburg battled back within three by the end of the third quarter, 38-35. They reclaimed the advantage on a Garrett Ketelaar three-pointer with about 5:30 remaining. After being held to one point in the first three quarters, Ketelaar exploded for 11 in the fourth. They were also able to contain Toliver, limiting him to only five second half points.
Paw Paw stayed alive with big triples from Aidan Luma and Zachary LeForge, putting them behind 48-47 after a timeout with 2:14 to go. Ketelaar drove to the hoop to put Vicksburg back up by three, but a Toliver three tied the game with 1:10 remaining. The Bulldogs drew a shooting foul but missed both shots, followed by a Paw Paw rebound. The Redskins held for the final possession, but couldn’t cash in, leading to overtime with a 50-50 score.
The game’s third and final lead change came on two free throws by Jakob Rickli a minute into OT. A corner-three by LeForge with 2:01 left pushed Paw Paw to a 55-50 advantage. Vicksburg’s CJ Laske got fouled and made two free throws with 1:06 left and the Bulldogs very nearly got the ball right back. They had Paw Paw trapped in the back court, but ended up fouling Luma just before the 10 count.
Luma hit both ends of the one-and-one to push Paw Paw back up by two scores. Vicksburg missed on the ensuing possession, leading to two more free throws for Luma, who missed nearly the entire season due to an ACL injury from football season. He buried both shots to secure the 59-52 win.
Toliver led all scorers with 23 points. Next in line were LeForge with 14 and Luma with 10 for Paw Paw. Laske topped Vicksburg with 22, followed by 12 from Ketelaar.
Vicksburg’s season ends at 6-15. It was the final game for seniors CJ Laske, Caleb Conklin, Ryan Morgan, Garrett Ketelaar, Austin Bresnahan, and Connor Seifert.
Paw Paw improves to 10-11 and will play Edwardsburg (4-16) in Wednesday’s semifinal at 5 p.m. from Three Rivers. The Eddies edged the Redskins 72-69 when they met on January 30. The other side of the bracket has Three Rivers (8-12) against Dowagiac (14-5).
PAW PAW SCORING: Luke Toliver 23, Zachary LeForge 14, Aidan Luma 10, Matt Lehto 5, Jakob Rickli 4, Karsen Barnhart 3
VICKSBURG SCORING: CJ Laske 22, Garrett Ketelaar 12, Kyle Rose 6, Caleb Conklin 5, Shane Earl 3, Tyler Kienbaum 2, James Kienbaum 2