Rangers rally for emotional victory

Published 5:17 am Friday, December 11, 2015

Cassopolis’ Santaja Gibson (20) scored 15 points as the Rangers defeated New Buffalo 37-29. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Cassopolis’ Santaja Gibson (20) scored 15 points as the Rangers defeated New Buffalo 37-29. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

It was a bittersweet victory for the Cassopolis girls basketball team Thursday night.

The Rangers outscored visiting New Buffalo 20-9 in the fourth quarter to earn a come-from-behind 37-29 BCS Athletic Conference Blue Division victory.

But the thrill of victory was tempered by the fact that Cassopolis played the game without head coach Nat Pittman, who suffered a heart attack Wednesday afternoon.

Prior to the start of the game, it was announced that Pittman was recovering in the hospital.

Thursday night’s game almost was not played following Pittman’s heart attack.

Cassopolis athletic director Matt Brawley said he called the team together Thursday morning and that it they decided to play the game as scheduled.

Lamar Pittman, Nat’s son, said he was not sure he wanted to come and coach the game, but that the win helped make things a bit easier.

“It has been a very tough 24 hours,” Lamar Pittman said. “The athletic director called me and said that the girls all wanted to play, so I said I would come out and coach. I had mixed feelings and I actually almost did not come. Getting the win makes it feel a little better I am not going to lie.”

The Rangers’ lone senior, Brittney Prestly, who is sidelined with an injury, said the team still wanted to play against the Bison.

“We were shocked and kind of down about it,” she said. “Then we came back to school today and Brawley asked us if we all still wanted to play. I think that we all wanted to play and win for coach. I feel like we were ready to get a win under our belt.”

Both teams struggled to put points on the board Thursday night.

New Buffalo scored a pair of late baskets to lead 4-3 after one quarter and held a 14-9 advantage at halftime.

The Rangers (1-2, 1-0 BCS Blue) outscored the Bison (0-3, 0-2 BCS Blue) 8-6 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 20-17 heading into the final eight minutes of play.

Cassopolis then exploded for 20 points to pick up the victory.

Santaja Gibson scored a game-high 15 points for the Rangers, who also got eight points from Ky’Ana Buck and seven points from Madison Brooks.

Anna Bardusk led New Buffalo with nine points.

For now, Lamar Pittman will coach both the JV and varsity squads with the help of assistant Will Hunt.



At Cassopolis


Lauren Aroney 0, Maeve Smith 2, Anna Bardusk 9, Sophia Giannetti 2, Marissa Bardusk 6, Mariah Artz 0, Alyssa Mulligan 10. TOTALS: 11 6-14 29.


Tierra Johnson 4, Eryn Forrest 0, Ky’Ana Buck 8, Santaja Gibson 15, Madison Brooks 7, Kyra Taylor 2, Telayah Coats 1. TOTALS: 17 3-12 37.


New Buffalo   4          14       20       29

Cassopolis      3          9          17       37

3-point baskets: New Buffalo 1 (Mulligan), Cassopolis 0. Total fouls (fouled out): New Buffalo 17 (A. Bardusk, M. Bardusk), Cassopolis 21 (Buck). Varsity records: New Buffalo 0-3, 0-2 BCS Blue, Cassopolis 1-2, 1-0 BCS Blue.