The Charger men's basketball team, red-hot to finish the regular season, closed out this part of its season on a positive note Saturday afternoon in Ohio.
In a tough, low-scoring game, Hillsdale won for the eighth time in its past nine games, 60-51, over Ohio Dominican in Columbus. The Chargers are 15-11 overall and finished its last GLIAC schedule with an 11-9 record.
Hillsdale is in the GLIAC Tournament, though its seeding and first-round opponent won't be known until the GLIAC regular season ends next Thursday. The rest of the league has one more game left to play, while Hillsdale has a "bye week."
The GLIAC Tournament's first round will take place Tuesday, Feb. 28.
During this 8-1 stretch, the Charger offense has been on fire, regularly scoring more than 80 points against all opponents. But early on, it was apparent this one wasn't going that way, as both teams struggled shooting the ball from the floor in the first half. Only a late series of made baskets lifted Hillsdale's shooting percentage over 40 percent.
The second half wasn't exactly pinball machine in its scoring pace, but the Chargers did an excellent job of controlling pace and not allowing the Panthers to make a long scoring run at any point. A quick 5-0 ODU surge was met with an effective counterpunch by Hillsdale, including some key points scored by improving young players.
Sophomore center Nick Czarnowski scored six straight points to help withstand one fast Panther rally. He made three straight field goals, on his way to a team-high 13 points in the game. He went 5-for-8 from the floor and made all three of his free throws in another effective performance.
Sophomore forward Gordon Behr gave the team a big lift with back-to-back 3-point shots in the second half to again keep Hillsdale's cushion comfortable. Behr finished with a career-high 8 points for the Chargers.
Senior Rhett Smith scored all 8 of his points in the first half, and junior Stedman Lowry wrapped up a stellar regular season with 10 points, with all five of his made field goals coming from two-point territory.