published Monday, December 31st, 2012

Swafford's shots give Central a tournament title

Some poor decision-making had Central point guard Dewaun Swafford on the bench late in the Pounders' game against Northwest Whitfield Dec. 28 in the Wildcat Classic semifinals at Hixson.

Head coach Rick Rogers chose to put him in a tie game late, and as Swafford ran by him, the coach had two final words for him.

"Take it," was Rogers simple request.

Swafford did the rest, hitting a game-winning shot to give his team a victory, then duplicated the feat with another game-winner Saturday in the championship against district rival Hixson. The two clutch shots were enough to earn him Times Free Press Player of the Week honors.

Over the three games, Swafford averaged 11.7 points per game, numbers deflated by his reduced minutes Friday, which resulted in a five-point performance against the Bruins. But it was his importance that was immeasurable.

"Nobody in the town can stop him off the dribble, especially if they don't allow hand-checking," Rogers said. "He's the quickest player I've coached, and I had no doubt he'd take that shot because he thrives in that situation.

"It's hard to find those players."

Rogers recalled that the Lincoln County team was picking on Swafford -- a 5-foot-6 guard -- and asking him if he played junior varsity. He scored 16 points as the Pounders posted a 65-44 first-round victory.

In the championship game against the hosts, Swafford had 14 points, including the clincher.

"One of the reasons I put so much faith in him is because I've had him for four years," Rogers said. "As mad as I was on Friday, there was no doubt in my mind I wanted him in the game with it on the line."

The championship victory -- Central's first of any kind in quite some time -- has them currently sitting at 9-3 heading into the meat-and-potatoes part of their schedule, which is the always-difficult District 6-AA race.

The team sits at 3-2 in the district, putting them right in the thick of things. Included is a victory over Howard -- the Hustlin' Tigers' lone district defeat. Last week has proven one thing to Rogers, should a late-game situation be merited.

"Next time, he'll have it again," Rogers said.

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