Griffins' playoff run ends with loss to defending champs

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown's Nick Caldwell had a game-high 21 in the Griffins' second-round loss to Landry-Walker. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Dutchtown fell behind defending champion Landry-Walker by double-digits on multiple occasions Tuesday night, but they kept fighting.

They got within five at halftime, and inched within seven late in the fourth quarter, but in the end, the third-seeded Buccaneers were just too good.

They calmly hit their free throws in the final two minutes to ensure that the Griffins could never threaten their lead. It translated into a 63-51 victory that pushed them through to the state quarterfinals.

"Nothing really broke down. I just think it was good defense and even better offense,” Dutchtown head coach Patrick Hill said. “We had an idea that we would have to play catch-up, but our goal was to keep it within single-digits until the latter part of the game and put them on the free-throw line, but they made their free throws. That made it even more difficult to overcome the deficit."

The Griffins came into the game fresh off of an upset victory over Lafayette in the opening round. It allowed them to host a playoff game for the first time since 2014.

But Landry-Walker felt right at home. Their stifling defense frustrated Dutchtown early on and forced them to dig themselves out of a 12-2 hole.

The Griffins were able to go on a 5-2 run that trimmed the deficit to 16-7 heading to the second quarter.

Dutchtown made back-to-back baskets to start the period. It got them within four. Later, an acrobatic layup by Gary Smith shrunk the deficit to three.

But Landry-Walker had a answer. They drilled a 3-pointer that put them back up six.

They carried a 25-19 advantage into the half.

Just like they did at the start of the game, the Buccaneers went on a big run to start the second half. They scored the first seven points of the third quarter to open up their biggest lead of the game at 12.

But the Griffins never went away. An and-one play by Smith helped Dutchtown cut it to an eight-point deficit.

Dutchtown trailed by 10 headed to the fourth quarter.

Again, Landry-Walker went on a big tear. A layup by Jamond Vincent looked to be the dagger as it put them up 15.

However, a huge dunk by Nick Caldwell and a 3-pointer by Derrick Youngblood got Dutchtown within nine with just under three minutes left.

A minute later, Caldwell drilled a trey that cut the deficit down to seven.

Dutchtown then tried to extend the game by fouling Landry-Walker and putting them on the free-throw line, but the Buccaneers rarely missed. This allowed them to hold on to their lead and punch their ticket to the quarterfinals.

Four Landry-Walker players scored in double-figures. This group was led by Sha’don Green, who scored 14.

"Not only are they athletic, but they're organized as well,” Hill said. “They do everything well. There was a time when we didn't have a senior on the floor, so some of it had to do with our youth and their maturity."

Dutchtown was led by Caldwell, who scored a game-high 21. Smith scored 13, and Youngblood chipped in with 10.

The Griffins’ season ends with an overall record of 17-10.

There are reasons for optimism for Dutchtown. After winning their first playoff game in four years, they will return almost their entire roster for next season—including Caldwell and Smith.

"If we were gonna end it, I rather end it against a team like that,” Hill said. “It gives you something to measure how good you are, and it lets you know what you need to do during the offseason to get to the point where they are.

“If you have the emotion of sadness, that's the wrong emotion. Be grateful you had the opportunity to play this game; many don't. You should be mad and ready to get back in the gym. That's our outlook, to get back in the gym and look for a better outcome for next year."