Wayne Trace’s Kyle Stoller attempts a free throw during the Raiders’ victory over the Swanton Bulldogs in the OHSAA Division III district semifinal on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. During the game, Stoller scored his 1,000 career point, becoming the 11th player in school history to reach that milestone. (Photo/Seth Yenser)

NAPOLEON – Junior Kyle Stoller became the 11th boys’ basketball player in Wayne Trace history and second this season to break the 1,000 point mark for his career as the Raiders moved into the district championship with a 41-29 victory over Swanton in the ‘Grand Canyon’ at Napoleon Wednesday evening.

Stoller’s basket with 7:35 remaining in the third quarter put the red, white and blue in front 23-11 as Wayne Trace went on to the victory in improving to 19-6 overall on the season. The Raiders will now take on Toledo Emmanuel Christian (21-3) in the Division III district championship at 6 p.m. Saturday evening in the ‘Grand Canyon’.

Stoller finished the night with 15 points and a whopping 18 rebounds in the contest while dishing out a pair of assists as well.

“He’s had a tremendous season for us and has played really well the last few weeks for us,” noted Wayne Trace head coach Jim Linder. “Kyle does a great job for us and works extremely hard.”

On a night that started with a Swanton slam dunk by Cole Mitchey off of a Luc Borojevich assist, Wayne Trace answered with six consecutive points on baskets from Stoller, Brooks Laukhuf and Tanner Laukhuf in posting a 6-5 lead in the opening stanza.

Holding a slim 9-7 advantage early in the second stanza, the Raiders extended the margin with back-to-back three-pointers by Brooks Laukhuf before a Stoller bucket put Wayne Trace in front 17-7.

Following a bucket by Borotevich, Stoller and Brooks Laukhuf added late Raider baskets to expand the Wayne Trace lead to 21-9 at the intermission.

“I thought defensively we played really well,” Linder added. “We switched things up a lot and our kids have done a good job of knowing where shooters are and limiting open looks.”

With the Raiders in front 27-14 midway through the third quarter, Swanton cut the deficit quickly with two Charlie Woods baskets along with a three-pointer by Hayden Callicotte to pull within 27-23.

The red, white and blue picked up a Cale Winans free throw to record a 28-23 advantage entering the final stanza.

Wayne Trace then widened the gap quickly in the fourth quarter, getting baskets by Brooks Laukhuf, Stoller and Brooks Laukhuf again to post a 34-23 lead.

“I thought we did a good job of staying patient and not panicking,” added the Raider mentor. “You know teams are going to make runs but I thought we were able to get some good looks and then got stops defensively to go with it.”

The Bulldogs put together one final run, picking up two Woods’ foul shots and a basket from Drew Smigelski to close within 34-27.

However, Wayne Trace closed out the win from there as Brooks Laukhuf converted an old-fashioned three-point play before Stoller and Tyler Davis each hit two foul shots to wrap up the 41-29 victory.

“Everybody is contributing,” said the Raider head coach. “They may not all score but they are making plays on the defensive end or they are getting rebounds for us. This group has done a nice job of coming together but we know that we have to continue to get better as well.”

Brooks Laukhuf led all scorers in the contest with 21 points for Wayne Trace while grabbing six rebounds. Tyler Davis (two), Tanner Laukhuf (two) and Cale Winans (one) completed the scoring for the Raiders.

Wayne Trace finished the night 16 of 43 from the field (37 percent) while Swanton was 12 of 45 (27 percent). Neither team shot well beyond the three-point arc as the Bulldogs hit only 3 of 23 attempts (13 percent) and the Raiders connected on just 2 of 14 (14 percent). At the charity stripe, Wayne Trace was seven of nine (78 percent) with Swanton making two of four (50 percent).

The Raiders won the battle of the boards 31-27 and had fewer turnovers, 6-8.

Borojevich topped the Bulldogs with seven points while Woods added six markers. Callicotte (five), Smigelski (five), Mitchey (four) and Keyon Johnson (two) also scored for Swanton, which closed the season with a record of 18-6.