Bobcats top Eddies to claim crown

Published 4:02 pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brandywine’s Lauren Leonard (right) and Edwardsburg’s Rachel Vite battle for a loose ball Friday night. The Bobcats defeated the Eddies to win the Lakeland Conference crown. (Vigilant/Argus photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Brandywine’s Lauren Leonard (right) and Edwardsburg’s Rachel Vite battle for a loose ball Friday night. The Bobcats defeated the Eddies to win the Lakeland Conference crown. (Vigilant/Argus photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Despite a slow start, host Brandywine was able to fend off Edwardsburg Friday night to win its second straight undisputed league championship.

The Bobcats used a strong second half to defeat the Eddies 64-33 in girls’ basketball action.

The win improved Brandywine to 19-1 overall and 12-0 in the conference.

The Eddies, who fall to 15-5 and 10-2 in the league, gave the Bobcats all they wanted for the first four minutes of Friday night’s contest.

Edwardsburg built an 8-4 lead thanks to the play of senior Rachel Vite, who scored the first two baskets for the Eddies. Stephanie Streb’s bucket with 3:52 showing on the clock gave Edwardsburg its biggest advantage of the game.

Brandywine responded with a 7-0 run to end the first quarter. Carlie Newman’s 3-pointer with 1:20 left in the period, gave Bobcats the lead at 9-8. Lauren Leonard’s bucket a few seconds later capped the run and had Brandywine out in front 11-8.

The Eddies continued to battle and the two teams traded the lead twice in the first four minutes of the second quarter before Rachel Ort’s 3-pointer gave the lead to the Bobcats for good with 3:36 to play in the opening half, 18-16.

Brandywine, like it did at the end of the first quarter, turned in another strong finish. The Bobcats outscored the Eddies 7-2 down the stretch to open up a 25-18 halftime advantage.

“We’ve seen triangle and twos and box and ones, but we haven’t seen an all-out sagging man (defense),” Brandywine coach Josh Hood said. “They (Edwardsburg) did a good job of taking our post away. Fortunately, we shot the ball pretty well from the perimeter and that opened up things on the inside.”

Newman, Ort and Mackenzie Shelton, along with Morgan Smallwood, all hit shots from the outside and allowed Brandywine to got inside in the final 16 minutes of the contest.

Edwardsburg was its own worst enemy in the first half, hitting just 4-of-14 free throws and connecting on just 7-of-25 shots from the field.

“The first half we were with them the whole time,” Edwardsburg coach Nicole Cartwright said. “We played with heart and intensity. It’s hard to ask the kids to play that hard the whole time without getting any breaks. Sometimes you shoot that way and tonight was an off night.”

Cartwright noted that free throw shooting has been a focus of the team for the past eight games. Edwardsburg has been shooting around 61 percent from the free throw line.

In the third quarter, Madison Pellow came off the Bobcats’ bench and established herself on the inside. Pellow scored eight of her 12 points in the third period as Brandywine began to open up its advantage.

“What a phenomenal game,” Hood said about Pellow’s performance. “That’s the thing. You just never know which one of those three post players it is going to be. Tonight it was Madison, while the other two played great defense.”

While the post play of the Bobcats was hitting on all cylinders in the second half, it was another outside shot, a 3-pointer by Smallwood, that pushed the lead up to double digits and really got Brandywine rolling. Her triple at the 4:30 mark of the quarter stretched the advantage to 33-22 and by the time the period was over, the Bobcats owned a 42-25 advantage and the large crowd could sense the championship was at hand.

Brandywine finished off the Eddies with a 22-point fourth quarter and outscored Edwardsburg 39-13 in the second half.

On Senior Night, the trio of Leonard, Smallwood and Kelsey Prestley, who have a combined record of 60-9, finished with 23 points. They have also helped the Bobcats win an amazing 29 consecutive Lakeland Conference games.

“In a coaching lifetime you hope to have one class like those girls are,” Hood said. “What great kids. People talk basketball, basketball, but the biggest part is that they are phenomenal kids.”

Shelton led the Bobcats with 14 points, while Pellow finished with 12 and Smallwood 10. Newman and Leonard each contributed nine points.

Vite finished with 11 points for the Eddies, who also got seven points from Streb and five from Mariah Murphy.

The Bobcats made just two more 2-point baskets (13-11), but hit on eight 3-pointers, while the Eddies had none. Brandywine was also 14-of-21 from the free throw line compared to 9-of-19 for Edwardsburg.

The Eddies won the JV contest 45-36.

Alexis Blake led Edwardsburg with 16 points, while Maddie Holmes had 14 and Olivia Hack 10.

Brandywine got 12 points from Hanna Horst and eight points each from Victoria Knight and Victoria Ebersol.

Brandywine will now set its sites on winning a third straight Class C District championship. The Bobcats open up defense of their title Wednesday night against the winner of the Watervliet and host New Buffalo contest. That game is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m.

Edwardsburg is hosting the Class B district and will take on St. Joseph in the first round Monday night.

EDWARDSBURG 33

Rachel Vite 5 1-4 11; Jill Blough 0 0-0 0; Emily Kozinski 2 0-0 4; Hannah Hack 0 2-2 2; Sarah D’Amico 0 0-1 0; Ashley Streb 2 3-7 7; Branda Fleishchauer 1 0-0 2; Mariah Murphy 1 3-6 5. TOTALS: 11 9-19 33

BRANDYWINE 64

Carlie Newman 3 1-2 9; Rachel Ort 2 0-0 6; Morgan Antus 0 0-0 0; Mackenzie Shelton 5 1-1 14; Kelsey Prestly 1 2-4 4; Morgan Smallwood 4 1-2 10; Lauren Leonard 2 5-8 9; Madison Pellow 4 4-4 12; Siranda Lary 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 21 14-21 64

Edwardsburg 8 18 25 33

Brandywine 11 25 42 64

3-point baskets: Edwardsburg 0, Brandywine 8 (Newman 2, Ort 2, Shelton 3, Smallwood). Total fouls: Edwardsburg 17, Brandywine 17. Fouled out: Hack (E). Varsity records: Edwardsburg 15-5, 10-2 Lakeland; Brandywine 19-1, 12-0 Lakeland