Bobcats can’t get over the humpPublished 7:18am Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The lasting memory from the 2013-14 season for the Brandywine boys basketball team will be the ending.
Several Bobcat players could be seen on the court bending over in disbelief after the Cassopolis Rangers stunned them, 48-47, in a Class C district semifinal game on Wednesday.
Brandywine squandered a 47-43 lead with 13 seconds left and the game was won by Cassopolis on a free throw from J.J. Smith with no time left on the clock.
After coming out of a very quiet locker room, Bobcats coach Nathan Knapp was asked if Wednesday’s loss was the toughest that he has suffered in his eight years as the varsity coach at the school.
“This ranks with the five overtime loss (66-63 in 2008) against Bridgman in a district first round game,” said Knapp. “We also lost a district final to Bridgman (39-37) two years ago that we should have won.
“We just can’t seem to get over the hump.”
Like their season, the Bobcats had moments of brilliance and struggles against the Rangers.
Brandywine couldn’t hold on to an 18-8 first quarter lead and a 39-33 lead after three quarters.
The Bobcats had seven turnovers in the second quarter, two in the third quarter and six in the fourth.
Cassopolis held a 26-21 rebounding advantage .
Trevon Brown’s steal and basket pulled the Rangers within 47-45 with 13 seconds left and Lynell Ballard’s rebound basket off a missed free throw tied the game at 47 with 11 seconds remaining.
“It’s been our luck all season,” Knapp said. “The kids give all they got. We just find little things that destroy us. That offensive rebound on the free throw was key. That’s something we work on. There was a skirmish there. We’ve just got to rip the ball away and take care of it. We didn’t do it. Good teams seal the deal. They don’t give up offensive rebounds. They take care of the ball.”
Good teams also value each offensive possession. An inability by Brandywine to do that allowed Cassopolis to go on a 16-0 run in the first half.
“We did a great job of breaking their press, but once we broke the press we took quick shots and didn’t make them play defense,” Knapp said. “We also didn’t get the ball inside like we needed to.”
In his final message to the team, Knapp had positive thoughts on the season and looked ahead to what must be done to improve the team’s 6-14 record this year.
“I thanked them all,” the Bobcats coach said. “I thanked them for their effort and for their hard work all season.
“I also talked to them that when it comes to summer time when we get to varsity team camps and play summer ball we can’t have just three varsity players with eight freshmen. You don’t get better that way. That’s been our problem the last several years. We want our team together in the offseason.
“Fans can see it. We struggle over the course of the year and then we start playing good ball together and become a solid team. Why can’t we start the season that way and carry it over from the summer? That’s what kills us.”