Bobcats sneak into title game

Published 8:08 am Friday, March 12, 2004

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
BUCHANAN -- Five turnovers early in the third quarter caused the Brandywine varsity basketball team to lose an eight-point lead and find itself playing catchup in Thursday night's Class C District Tournament semifinal game against Eau Claire.
The Bobcats led 35-27 following a 3-pointer by Andy Low with six minutes left in the third period. Then things went awry for Brandywine.
Eau Claire used a half-court trapping defense to disturb the Bobcats on offense and scored 10 straight points to take a two-point lead. The game was back and forth from that point on but Brandywine fought back for a 61-59 win and a spot in the championship game Saturday night against Buchanan.
Following the Eau Claire outburst the lead changed hands five times before Eau Claire committed three turnovers in the last two minutes and a layup by Alex Newman gave Brandywine the lead for good with 1:32 left in the game.
A rebound basket by Danny Rauch extended the Bobcats' lead to 58-56 with 1:13 to go. Following an Eau Claire turnover, Brandywine called a timeout with 41 seconds remaining. Andy Low made 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to keep Eau Claire at bay.
The game was evenly played most of the way. There were four lead changes in the first quarter and the Beavers took a 14-12 lead heading into the second period.
Brandywine opened the second quarter with a 4-0 run to take a two-point lead before Eau Claire tied the game at 16 apiece. The Bobcats built a 23-16 lead and settled for a 29-24 lead at halftime.
A pair of 3-pointers early in the third quarter gave Brandywine its biggest lead of the night, at 35-27, before Eau Claire turned things around with its defense.
Brandywine connected on seven 3-pointers compared to just one for Eau Claire. Senior Casey Udell led the Bobcats with 19 points, including four 3-pointers. Gene McDonald made a pair from beyond the arc and finished with 13 points. Low made one 3-pointer and scored 12 points. Rauch added 10 points.
Dennis Hill and Alton Phillips scored 12 points apiece for Eau Claire. Carl Brown and Chris Moore each scored 10.
Both teams committed 18 turnovers, a concern for Sidenbender as his team prepares to face the high-pressure defense of Buchanan in Saturday's title game.
Brandywine is now 9-13 on the season and Eau Claire finishes the year with a record of 11-10.