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  • Robert Lathers

Portland Raiders give Ionia a real fight in MHSAA Boys Basketball District Final

It was the third time this year that the Portland Raiders met the Ionia Bulldogs on the hardcourt. In the two previous meetings Ionia won in convincing style. On Friday night it was a different story.

Portland started out the game playing an aggressive zone, in an effort to stifle the Bulldog’s high scoring Brady Swinehart, and it worked well as Swinehart scored only four points in the first half that ended when Portland’s Gavin McGregor stole the ball, at mid-court from Ionia’s Swinehart, and made a charging lay-up at the buzzer to put the Raiders to within four at the end of the half 23-19.

The second half started with a quick basket for Ionia followed by Portland’s Gavin McGregor hitting a three-point shot to pull Portland to within three points 25-22. But that was as close as the Raiders got for the rest of the game. A key factor in Portland’s inability to keep the game close was that Tate Dziewiatkowski, Portland’s defensive specialist, sat out most of the second half with a twisted ankle as he watched Ionia began to pull away.

The Bulldog’s led 50-40, with three seconds on the clock, as Ionia’s Skyelore Roberson, who only played in the last minute of the game, dribbled to center court, and flung a half-court shot at the buzzer that hit the rim, bounced up in the air, clanked the rim again, and fell through the basket making the final score 53-40.

Portland’s Aryan Virk led all scorers with 17 points. Portland’s Owen Russell had 11 and Gavin McGregor scored 9. Ionia’s Swinehart was held to 13 points for the night followed by D. Taylor with 10.

After the game in the locker room, Portland Coach Dave Pettit told his team, “Your effort, energy and enthusiasm was outstanding! Tonight, it was just a matter of a few possessions. We gave up the baseline a few times and that was the difference. The effort and energy was there”. Pettit led the team in an applause for the two graduating Seniors, Tate Dziewiatkowski and Mitchell Savage, and said, “These two brought it all year long and I’m proud of them. We have a lot of guys coming back. That can be us lifting that trophy up next year”.

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