MHSAA districts begin tonightPublished 10:51am Sunday, February 26, 2012
Fresh from its third straight Lakeland Conference championship, Brandywine is looking to win its fourth consecutive Class C District title.
The Bobcats reached the state semifinals two years ago and made it to the quarterfinals last year.
Despite heavy graduation losses, Brandywine has maintained its customary level of success.
Gone from the first three district title teams are post players Lauren Leonard, Kelsey Prestly and Morgan Smallwood.
Instead of pounding the ball inside as they have done in the past, Brandywine is a perimeter shooting team and relies heavily on creating offensive opportunities with its pressure defense.
The Bobcats are averaging 55.9 points per game, which is the area’s best. On the defensive end, Brandywine is allowing just 35.9 points per game and has a victory margin of 20 points per game.
Brandywine (19-1) is ranked No. 4 and is looking for a return trip to the Breslin Center.
The Bobcats open the tournament against Watervliet tonight at 7 p.m.
The Panthers finished second to Lawton in the Southwest Athletic Conference South Division and ended the regular season with a 15-5 record after defeating Martin in its finale.
Brandywine is led by the area’s second leading scorer and all-time leader Carlie Newman (19.2 points per game). The Bobcats also look to Madison Pellow, Mackenzie Shelton, Rachael Ort and Brooke Smith for scoring.
Watervliet is led by Nicole Winter, Kirsten Sill and Casey Clark, who combined for 38 of the Panthers’ 55 points Thursday night.
“There are actually three teams in this district with 15 or more wins,” Brandywine coach Josh Hood said. “You don’t see that very often in a district tournament. New Buffalo has beaten Watervliet in the regular season, so there are three really good teams. It’s going to be a tough district. We are happy to be hosting it because that gives us a little bit of an advantage.
“But when you get to Monday night, everyone’s record is 0-0. That’s how we have to approach each game. You watch the game from last year, and Watervliet didn’t lose one player off that team. We were fortunate to get out of there with a 10-point win. We fully expect a dogfight Monday. It has been nice having a week off. We’ve watched their last seven or eight games on film, and the girls have really done a nice job of being focused and getting prepared.”
The winner of the Brandywine-Watervliet game will face Dream Academy Wednesday night at 7:45 p.m. Dream Academy received a first round bye.
In the other half of the bracket, New Buffalo (16-2) will take on Bridgman (5-15) in the first semifinal Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
The championship game is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.
Class A at Gull Lake
Niles (6-14) has a tall task in front of it tonight as it takes on district host Gull Lake.
The Blue Devils (16-4) may be a newcomer to the Big 16 Conference, but they wasted no time making a name for themselves.
Gull Lake went 12-2 in the East Division to claim a share of the championship.
The Blue Devils earned that title share Friday night with a 49-38 win over Kalamazoo Loy Norrix.
Gull Lake is led offensively by Kelsey Adamski, who scored 13 points with five rebounds and four steals Friday night. The Blue Devils have a balanced scoring attack with Iori Fell, Alexis Ahlert, Abbey Watson, Emily DeWaters and Hadlee Hoeksema also figuring in the mix.
Niles has had an up-and-down season, but has shown that it is capable of playing well against good teams. The only problem is the Vikings seem to come up short in the final quarter.
Friday night’s performance against Kalamazoo Central may have been a stepping stone for Niles.
“At the end of the third quarter, I told the kids we’ve been here a lot of times against very good teams,” he said. “We lose our composure or we lose focus on the execution that gets us to this spot. So what I hope we can do tonight is to get some growth of who we our, and we can show ourselves that we can go out in the fourth quarter and keep our composure. Execute what got us there, and, hopefully, we are in the game. It is definitely a microcosm of our season, but I think our kids took a step forward today because we didn’t totally get out of it in the fourth quarter.”
Touhey said his team needs to continue to play like it did against the Maroon Giants if it is to have any chance of moving on in the tournament.
“Playing Gull Lake at Gull Lake is a monumental task,” he said. “They play a very similar game to Kalamazoo Central where they get after you all over the floor. We are going to see a lot of trapping, a lot of pressure.
“We are going to have to play a similar game tonight against them. As far as district goes, I don’t care what anybody’s record is come district time. On any given night if a team isn’t ready to play, you have a chance. Our kids are confident right now. Our kids have a lot of respect for Gull Lake, don’t get me wrong, but they will go up there and play hard. They will fight, and they will claw. It’s going to be an interesting game.”
Niles is led by Maureen Craig, who is averaging nearly 14 points per game, which is fifth best in southwest Michigan.
Niles will also count on the play of guard Taylor Brandstatter, who scored a career-high 24 points Friday night against Kalamazoo Central. The Vikings must also find a way to get Alexis Arnold and Michelle Briand involved offensively.
The other first round games tonight are Portage Northern at Mattawan and Portage Central at Kalamazoo Central.
The winner Niles-Gull Lake game will face the Portage Central-Kalamazoo Central game Wednesday night at 5:30. Kalamazoo Loy Norrix will take on the Portage Northern-Mattawan winner in the second semifinal Wednday at 7:30.
The championship game is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
Class B at Coloma
The regular season has wrapped up, and, tonight, the Michigan High School Athletic Association kicks off its second season.
The girls district basketball tournaments get under way throughout the state.
Dowagiac will make the trip over to Coloma to open up its post season against Parchment.
The Chieftains (2-18) will be facing the Panthers, who are 17-3 this season following a season-ending 30-25 win over Galesburg-Augusta Friday night.
Angela Patton, Kendyl Hinton and Meredith Stutz are among the offensive leaders for Parchment.
Dowagiac is led by Correisha Rodgers, who is averaging better than 13 points per game this season.
The winner will face South Haven, which Dowagiac has defeated twice this season, in the semifinals Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.