By DAVE HANNEMAN
BOWLING GREEN — Vitto Brown will be a Wisconsin Badger a year from now.
But this season he’s still a Bowling Green Bobcat, and the 6-foot-8 senior is proving to be a tough animal to handle at this level as well.
Four of Brown’s seven baskets were putbacks, including three straight during a pivotal third-quarter run as the University of Wisconsin recruit scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds Tuesday in leading Bowling Green to a 43-32 nonleague win over Findlay High.
“Vitto was very active in that third quarter,” said Bowling Green coach Von Graffin.
“We have two very good shooters, Andrew Herringshaw and Evan Gardner. And what we mean by good shooters is that when they miss, they are very reboundable misses.
“I’ve seen kids throw bricks up there that result in long rebounds. With Gardner and Herringshaw, their shots land kind of soft on the rim, and that allows Vitto to fly in there and do what he’s good at.”
Bowling Green started strong, leading 16-5 after the first quarter thanks to an NBA-range 3-pointer from Herringshaw. But Findlay rallied and BG struggled against the Trojans’ zone defense in the second quarter.
A rash of turnovers, nine in the quarter, also stalled BG’s offense as Findlay cut the deficit to 16-10 on the 3-point play by Austin Gutting and 17-12 after two free throws by Grant Niswander.
Findlay still trailed 24-17 after another 3-point play from Gutting with 4:21 left in the third quarter.
That’s when Brown elevated his game — literally.
On a missed 3-pointer by sophomore guard LaMonta Stone, Brown soared well above the rim, grabbed the ball with one hand and slammed it through the iron.
Brown rebounded another BG miss 18 seconds later and put it back up and in. On the Bobcats next possession, he corralled his own partially-blocked shot, and laid it up and in as well.
In a little over two minutes, Brown’s high-flying barrage turned a slight 24-17 advantage into a commanding 30-17 lead. Findlay never got the deficit under double digits the rest of the game.
“We were mixing it up, so we went to a zone in the second quarter, we had some success with it and we stuck with it,” said Findlay High coach Jim Rucki.
“But the hard part (about the zone) was you have to give something up sometimes. I thought our guys gave a good effort. But a couple of times, we needed to be more aware of where (Brown) was.”
Herringshaw added 11 points in BG’s season opener.
Gutting, despite giving up five inches to Brown and three to 6-6 BG senior Nolan Dill, had another solid game for Findlay (1-1) with 17 points and six rebounds. Niswander had seven points and Joseph Davidson four points and five rebounds.
With two starters — 6-1 junior point guard Michael Clark (ankle) and 6-3 junior wing Adam Twining (concussion) — sidelined, Findlay’s inexperience showed.
The Trojans committed 19 of their 20 turnovers in the first three quarters, made only 1 of 7 3-pointers and shot just 31 percent (11 of 36) overall.
“These guys have played (varsity). But tonight we asked them to take on a larger role,” Rucki said. “They got submerged tonight. I can’t fault our effort, though. They kept plugging away and sticking with it. We got on the glass pretty well, we forced some turnovers and we gave ourselves a chance when this things could have gotten ugly.
“We will see these kind of situations again. If we can learn from this game, it will help us in the long run.”
With Friday’s Three Rivers Athletic Conference opener with Toledo Central Catholic postponed until Feb. 19 because of TCC’s playoff run to the Division II football title, Findlay faces a nine-day gap until they travel to Toledo Whitmer on Dec. 14.
“It comes at a good time for us,” Rucki said of the break.
“We need to get healthy and we have a lot of improvements to make. We don’t have to do it all in one day. We have plenty of time to watch film, see what things we need top get better at, and then it’s up to us to get better at it.
“Hopefully, our guys will do that, and I’m confident they will.”
In Tuesday’s junior varsity contest, Findlay freshman Grant McKinniss hit two free throws, then a 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game. BG’s Trey Walker made one of two free throws with under a second left, though, to seal BG’s 48-44 victory.
McKinniss led Findlay (1-1) with 18 points. Cam Carsey had 23 points for Bowling Green.
Miller 1-6 2-2 4, Niswander 2-5 2-2 7, Davidson 2-7 0-0 4, Gutting 6-16 5-7 17, Kairys 0-2 0-0 0, Gobrescht 0-0 0-0 0, Haynes 0-0 0-0 0, Moss 0-0 0-0 0, Fisher 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 11-36 9-11—32.
bowling green (1-0)
Stone 3-10 0-0 7, Herringshaw 4-10 0-0 11, E. Gardner 1-3 0-0 3, Brown 8-12 3-3 20, Dill 1-3 0-0 2, Donaldson 0-0 0-0 0, M. Gardner 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17-38 3-3—43.
Findlay 5 7 8 12 — 32
Bowling Green 16 2 12 13 — 43
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 1-7 (Miller 0-3, Niswander 1-3, Kairys 0-1); Bowling Green 6-12 (Stone 1-2, Herringshaw 3-6, E. Gardner 1-2, Brown 1-2).
rebounds: Findlay 21 (Gutting 6, Davidson 5); Bowling Green 28 (Brown 16).
turnovers: Findlay 20, Bowling Green 18.
junior varsity: Bowling Green, 48-44.