Basketball season kicks off Tuesday
Two months ago, veteran Brandywine coach Josh Hood thought he had dodged a bullet when junior Brooke Smith suffered a knee injury during volleyball.
Smith had surgery and was cleared to return to the volleyball court and appeared to be ready to lead the Brandywine girls basketball team into the 2013-14 season.
But that won’t happen as Smith, who is the Bobcats’ top scorer (9.9) and rebounder (6.6) from last season, suffered a season-ending knee injury during warm-ups in the district opener for Brandywine.
Smith at 5-foot-10 was also the Bobcats’ tallest player.
Heading into Tuesday night’s season opener at the Centreville preseason tournament, Brandywine will not have a player taller than 5-9 and will not have a starter over 5-6.
That means the Bobcats will really be counting on its outstanding outside shooting to carry it through this season.
Brandywine is coming off a 24-1 season in which it won its fourth consecutive Lakeland Conference championship, fifth straight district title and fourth consecutive regional crown.
Defense has been a trademark of those squads, which has allowed its opponents less than 34 points per game over that stretch.
Brandywine also is among the state leaders in 3-pointers attempted and made. The Bobcats may have to ramp that up even more now.
Brandywine must also find a way to replace four-year starter MacKenzie Shelton, along with three-year starter Rachael Ort and Victoria Knight.
A trio of sophomores — Emily Erwin, Makenna Hartline and Michaela Hartline, along with seniors Tammy Lee and Tia Hullinger, will have to carry the load for Brandywine, especially early on.
“We have to replace four starters and will be very young with five sophomores and a freshman playing significant minutes,” Hood said.
The Bobcats will open the season against White Pigeon at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Centreville. The second game will pit the host Bulldogs against Howardsville Christian at 7 p.m.
The championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday. The consolation game will be played at 5:30.
Dowagiac at Buchanan
One of the goals of the Dowagiac basketball team this year will be to win a basketball game.
The Chieftains were 0-21 last season under first-year coach Floyd Foston.
One of those losses came at the hands of Buchanan, which has a new coach.
Gabe Miller replaced Dave Cleveland following last season.
Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m.
St. Joseph at Edwardsburg
The Eddies are coming off a 6-14 season.
Edwardsburg returns three starters, including leading scorer (9.9) and rebounder (8.4) Alexis Blake.
St. Joseph has a new coach in Paul Brohman. The Bears have good size with 6-foot-2 seniors Sarah Punches and Maddie Paul.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Berrien Springs at Cassopolis
The Rangers were just 7-15 last season and have just one senior on its roster — Logan Lawson.
Hoping to help make the 2013-14 season more successful are returning starters Jayne Butts and Brittney Prestly.
Tip-of is set for 7:30 p.m.
Niles residents Bob and Jennifer Conway competed in the Thanksgiving Day Run together for the first time Thursday. (Leader photo/KELLY... read more