Brawley sends Niles to district finalsPublished 7:51am Thursday, March 6, 2014
KALAMAZOO — Faced with the possibility of playing his final high school basketball game, Niles senior Tate Brawley refused to let it happen.
Brawley’s tip-in and two free throws during the final 24 seconds of Wednesday night’s Class A district semifinal against St. Joseph proved to be the difference in a 57-53 Vikings victory.
The 6-foot-3 Brawley scored a game-high 20 points to lead Niles (11-11) into Friday night’s championship game against (host Kalamazoo Central).
“He just has a knack for putting the ball in the basket,” Niles coach Todd Pawielski said about Brawley. “I think that he is one of the best shooters we’ve had in the history of our school, and we’ve had some really good ones. The tip-in at the end was huge, plus the two free throws.”
It was a steal-turned-layup by Brawley late in the first quarter that staked Niles to a lead it would not again relinquish, while reserve Ra’quon Glenn collected six of his 14 points to ignite a Niles offense that missed its first three shots of the game.
Niles led by as many as nine points, 20-11, early in the second quarter, but back-to-back triples by St. Joseph enabled the Bears to remain within striking distance.
A triple by Brawley allowed Niles to seize a 25-21 lead at halftime.
The Vikings stretched their lead to as many as eight points, 36-28, in the third quarter, but back stormed St. Joseph with consecutive treys and the Vikings took a 40-38 advantage into the final eight minutes.
Niles stepped up its defensive intensity to open the final stanza, forcing St. Joseph into four missed shots and pair of turnovers before the quarter was two minutes old.
St. Joseph rattled off nine unanswered points to all but erase a 10-point lead by the Vikings heading into the final two minutes off the contest.
The Vikings ran more than a minute off the clock, before a free throw by Gabe Stokes with 43 seconds remaining set the stage for Brawley’s heroics during the final minute.
Niles shot 49 percent from the field 23 of 47) and committed just seven turnovers.
“We really wanted to stay patient and aggressive tonight, and sometimes that’s a tough combination,” Pawielski said. “(Glenn) and (Stokes) did a nice job of taking care of the ball. Sometimes our shot selection gets a little goofy, but they do a nice job of attacking the rim.
“That’s a very good win against a very tough, very disciplined and very well-coached St. Joe team. We didn’t want to play any more minutes. We’ll take this and get out of here.”
St. Joseph got 17 points from A.J. Gibson and 16 points from Tyler White. The Bears shot 46 percent afield (22 of 48) and outrebounded Niles by a 34-25 margin.
Niles 57, St. Joseph 53
ST. JOSEPH 53
Austin Everett 2, Martin Sieman 6, Tyler White 16, Michael Riemland 5, A.J. Gibson 17, Ross Newland 4, Macmahon Shimulunas 0, Connor Hubble 3, Domoneke Mitchell 0. Totals: 22 3-14 53
Gabe Stokes 3, Jeremy Wortham 5, Connor Glick 4, Matthew Miller 4, Tate Brawley 20, Gavin Rasler 2, Ra’quon Glenn 14, Donte Murphy 5. Totals: 23 7-10 57
St. Joseph 9 21 38 53
Niles 13 25 40 57
3-point baskets: St. Joseph 6 (Sieman 2, White 2, Gibson, Hubble), Niles 4 (Brawley 3, Murphy). Total fouls (fouled out): St. Joseph 14 (Everett), Niles 17 (none). Varsity record: Niles 11-11